Where have all the creatures gone?

Yesterday it rained. Here in the Australian bush – tanks running dry, brown grass everywhere – it felt like a miracle.

On our farm we are not on mains water so we rely on a spring-fed dam. Every day it gets lower and lower. And it’s been boiling hot – midsummer temperatures at the start of spring. Apart from yesterday’s brief downpour, the spring storms haven’t materialised.

But it’s not the water and it’s not even the bush fires that concern me the most right now. It’s the creatures.

12 years ago I lived on this same farm. I got used to the spiders everywhere, the mice, the cockroaches, the beetles, the ants, the zillion bugs and mozzies filling the air… every day they were all there, buzzing and scurrying around.

When it rained the floor of our shack would be filled with frogs of all shapes and sizes. Every evening huge Huntsman spiders would be dangling from walls and mirrors.

Yesterday there were no frogs after the rain. Of all the other creatures that used to live with us, you see the odd beetle or bug here and there. A mouse or gecko or the occasional spider might appear in my yurt. But they are very few and far between.

The only creatures that seem to be doing well here now are the flies. Even the mozzies seem to be strangely absent. But the bellbirds are still singing in the wood next door so they must have something to eat.

As I write this, a small Huntsman spider has suddenly appeared high on the wall of my studio – the first I’ve seen in months. As if to say, we’re not done yet. I’m guessing that without us here polluting the world, nature would recover pretty quickly.

I never thought I would miss a cockroach or a March fly. But something is happening and it’s happening fast. In a country where the Prime Minister denies the existence of man-made climate change, it is terrifying.