Dust Storm Morning

This was the colour of the sky at 7 o’clock this morning.

I woke to find the bedroom drawn in various shades of orange. My mouth was gritty and dry. It tasted of metal. I thought I was dreaming at first, transported into a surreal landscape. When I realised I was actually awake, I thought it was the end of the world.

Overnight a dust storm had risen from the west. It flung around the dry, red, parched earth and transported it thousands of kilometres to the east coast of Australia.

It hovered in the sky for half of the day. As if vats of powdered paint had been catapaulted into the air and captured by the heavy winds.

At 10 o’clock the sun was still trying to break through.

Dusty sun

As the sky began to clear the orange dust that had fallen became noticeable.

It was everywhere. On kitchen bench tops. Under cupboard doors. Inside shoes. Covering the cake of soap in the shower.

The kettle was orange. There was dust in the toaster. In-between the piano keys. The wooden floors were slippery with it. A good inch of it covered the car.

And a cobweb under the guttering was aflame like the spider who made it had dressed it up for a carnival.

Des – who lives in my street and is all-seeing and all-knowing – said his brother who is a farmer and lives in the country now has orange sheep. The dust is stuck in their wool.

He blames the farmers and mining companies for Australia’s changing climatic conditions.

Those drongos cut down all the trees, didn’t they? he says.

There may be some truth in what he says, but I suspect we’ve all had a part to play.

I hope the dust clears before the morning. It is unnerving to walk beneath a tangerine sky. It is like a vision of the future has spilled backwards into today, slowly detonating the colours we are used to; coating our lips with a silent warning.

24 thoughts on “DUST!

  1. Holy Dust batman! I saw this on the news feed this morning and right way thought of you (well, to be honest, you are the only Aussie I “know”!). Imagine what a killing cleaning people will make in the days to come. Are you able to get out of the dust? I worry about people’s breathing & health in all that…


  2. sorry to hear that, I saw this news about Australia but was hoping is not near where you are…I do like how you describe it with the piano keys and taste of the air


  3. You should have seen the photo’s Craig sent me of Roxby where it’s been like that for two days and planes have been grounded. The sky was RED. It was quite eerie. At the airport there, they were constantly clearing the runway of thick layers of dust.


  4. I watched a program recently, here in the States, about our own “Dust Bowl” experience in the 20’s and 30’s. It was most sobering. A decade of drought combined with over-tilling and destruction of native prairie grasses led to conditions resulting in hellacious dust storms that wrought massive destruction. Most chilling were the tabulations of the deaths due to respiratory failure (primarily in children). Our hell on earth lasted approximately a decade before the rains returned and agricultural practices were extensively modified.

    I pray you will not face similar hardships.


  5. Selma so sorry you have to go through this but I think you’re right we are all to blame and it will most certianly get worse. Especially in the Southern hemisphere. But I think finally China and America are getting on board and people will start to take climate change and environmental destruction seriously.

    We can get mild dust storms here (I know -nothing like yours) but I know a bit about the clean-up. I feel bad for you already.


  6. It was horrible here in Brisbane yesterday too, we got the rest that didn’t land on you. Each event in itself is not proof of climate change, but when you start adding them all up…. (and less face it, it’s not brain surgery, less trees equals more dust.)


  7. LAURA:
    Now that the storm has passed I can see the full extent of the havoc. I have wiped down most surfaces with a damp cloth 3 or 4 times but the dust continues to fall. If I had a cleaning service I’d be raking it in over the next week or so!

    The dust is everywhere. I took some books off the shelf and there was dust in the pages. Unbelievable!

    That would be eerie. Yeah, the planes certainly couldn’t land on all that dust. We have wooden floors and I’ve been sliding along them all morning. I feel like one of those tapdancers who used to put the sand down before they danced!

    There was something frightening about it. Made me think for a minute that we don’t need to worry about economic collapse or war as a way of finishing us off. Mother Nature might just get us in the end.

    In some ways I fear it is too late. There are already so many problems with over-tilling and drought. They say if they just left the land alone for 20 or 30 years – let anything grow on it that could – if would fix itself up and the rains would return. I hope that happens, I really do!

    It is encouraging that there is a push to do something about environmental destruction. If being environmentally responsible could become part of basic agricultural and manufacturing practice it would go a long way.

    I’ve got to say the clean-up is hell. I am sneezing and wheezing!!

    Absolutely. One single event need not indicate a thing – but they do seem to add up. Hope you don’t have too much of a clean-up on your hands!


  8. I’ve been in “normal” dust storms in places that are near deserts and have had them for centuries and are prepared. Those are interesting and awesome. This, being induced by human destruction, is horrifying.


  9. My hometown, as are most towns in India, is quite dusty. My computer is covered in dust except for the screen and the keys – but the keyboard edges are covered in dust. It’s all over the area and if you don’t clean atleast once a week, it covers everything. I’m allergic to dust and if I inhale a little bit, I get an asthma issue.

    All we are is Dust in the wind!


  10. “It is like a vision of the future has spilled backwards into today, slowly detonating the colours we are used to; coating our lips with a silent warning”.

    Indeed. Red in the morning;sailors’ and shepherds’ warning!

    Other than the recent dust storm, we’ve been having some great Spring weather here in Sydney, imo.




  11. its very scary and surreal, hope it clears soon, but the underlying problems will be with us all for a lot longer. Though at least its good that there seems at least to be postiive moves forward in the international climate change talks at the moment


  12. It was cloudbursts and hailstones the size of golf balls last time I was there. What´s next? Not a plague of frogs, I hope! 😀


  13. How surreal this must have been. Wow, those are some amazing photos. I hope you are all feeling ok. Dust can be so damaging to the respiratory system.

    Hugs Sel and take care. G


    It does add a sinister quality to it, for sure. We’re not really geared up for such things in Sydney. I hope we don’t see another one again any time soon.

    I’ve done a major clean today but everything still feels gritty. I can feel the dust at the back of my throat. It’s fairly gross!

    As you know, I am an asthmatic too. To my surprise this dust isn’t giving me asthma but it has made me extremely itchy. Today I really wish I had a cleaner!

    I agree. Apart from the dust storm the weather has been glorious. Hope you weren’t too badly affected.

    It is good that there seems to be a movement towards actually doing something. It gives me so much hope!

    It was very strange.. I felt like I had wakened up with orange cellophane over my eyes. It was like being in a sci-fi movie!

    LOL. It seems a bit like that at the moment, doesn’t it? Soon we’ll see the four Horsemen riding in from the horizon…..

    Nick and I are OK breathing wise, thank God. But the itching, the itching….


  15. Spectacular and very scary. Sandra was on the phone to me when she first noticed that the world was turning red. I wondered what on earth she was talking about.

    And she is itching too!!!!

    I must find you on Twitter again. I shall do that later.


  16. I hope the dust has now settled (!) and the clean up is over. We have a horrible season of sandstorms each year in Bahrain – a month or so of endless dust everywhere, everyday, so I sympathise. Still, at least you have that wonderful orange sand downunder. Ours is a really dull beige.


  17. Very nice pictures. Reminds me of a post apocalyptic movie – with the environment altered to the point where humans roam the wastelands, seeking shelter, and whatever they can scavenge. I half expected to see Mel Gibson strolling into the picture with a shotgun over his shoulder, a la Mad Max!


  18. This is like flippin amazing! I can not imagine living in all that dust – and I was beginning to dread winter – silly me.


  19. RELUCS:
    Its great to hear from you again. I really missed you! It was a surreal experience. And I could certainly do without the itching!

    WOW. Incredible shots. This story hit the news in the UK too – all my cousins were emailing me wondering what was going on. Thanks for the link!

    Lovely of you to stop by. I can imagine that dust storms must be a frequent occurrence in Bahrain. I saw a spectacular one on TV once and was ‘oohing’ and ‘aahhing’ but at the time I didn’t consider the clean-up afterwards. No fun at all!

    Saving people is good. Coming over to read it right now!

    It reminded me a bit of Mad Max too. It did seem like the end of the world. Nice to hear from you!

    I would kill for some rain right now. It’s the only way the dust is going to be truly cleaned away!


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