Ever driven to Canberra and seen that vast, flat expanse of so-called "lake" on the side of the Federal Highway about 40km north of Canberra? It's called Lake George and it's no longer so dry after a weekend of torrential rain.
How full is it right now? Well, there's nobody keeping stats the way they do with water supply reservoirs, because Lake George is of no real use to anyone when full. When Lake George fills, its waters are almost as salty as the sea.
It's also a notoriously dangerous body of water. Stories abound of sailing trips gone wrong in the old days when a sudden squall whipped the shallow waters into monstrous waves that could easily capsize small craft.
Twenty-five km long and 10 km across, Lake George is a place of mystery. But the biggest mystery this Monday centres on the amount of water which may or may not have flowed into its dry grassy bed, where sheep were still grazing this weekend.
The Canberra Times reported on Monday morning that the lake was filling rapidly. This was refuted by Canberra naturalist and eccentric-at-large Tim "The Yowie Man" Bull.
despite reports 2 the contrary, #LakeGeorge is not anywhere near full. It's currently at about 5% capacity.— Tim the Yowie Man (@TimYowie) 6 de junho de 2016
So is Lake George filling or not? We thought we'd settle this issue by calling someone who lives and works on its shores. Anne Caine and her husband bought into the Lerida Estate Winery at the northern edge of the lake in 1997.
"2001 was the last time it was as full as this," she told The Huffington Post Australia on Monday. "Our winery overlooks the lake and five percent would be a significant underestimation."
Some of the rainfall figures for the Lake George region over the weekend were dramatic to say the least. The two nearest official Bureau of Meteorology stations are Canberra Airport (about 50km south) and Goulburn Airport (about 50km north).
Both had roughly 100mm of rain across the weekend and 65mm on Sunday. To put the Sunday figures in perspective, Canberra had never previously had a single day in any winter month with 60mm of rain. This is an absolute drenching for this relatively dry patch of NSW.
And so, the lake fills up. In an age when the local climate is warming and drying, it's unlikely it'll ever stay full for as long as it did in the early twentieth century when a ferry plied its waters and the lake was stocked with Murray cod -- Australia's largest inland fish.
Just how high it goes after the weekend deluge is anyone's guess, but as Anne Caine said "it's already really very full". The lake has no major rivers flowing into it, but Caine expects the small creeks coming down from the hills to keep pouring water into the lake for at least ten days.
Meanwhile at Lerida Estate, everyone's rather excited not just about lake levels, but the truffle season, which just started. Truffles are a local delicacy, and the Canberra region has fast become Australia's second largest growing area after SW Western Australia.
Word around the estate is the truffles go great with a glass of the local medal-winning pinot noir -- which we think is as good an excuse as any to sit and enjoy the spectacle of an unusually full -- if not totally full -- Lake George.Suggest a correction