The Morning Glory signifies power of a very different kind for the local Gangalidda indigenous people. To the Gangalidda, Walalu, the Rainbow Serpent, creates each Morning Glory – or kangólgi, as they call it. According to tradition, the Gangalidda ancestors ride along on the cloud to watch over their people and their land. For the modern Gangalidda, this is a good omen of the highest order.
Other than for those closely studying meteorological charts, the first hint that a Morning Glory is on the way may be in the town’s pub: when condensation forms on the beer glasses in the evening, there’s a good chance a Morning Glory will arrive the following dawn.
Amanda Wilkinson, owner of Burketown’s Savannah Lodge and town resident for 30 years, uses a different early warning system: “In the evening, you notice a nice sea breeze. Then, if you walk outside in the morning and it’s very dewy on the grass and on the railings and on your car, you’d straight away look out to the north-west to see if there was something on the horizon.”
It used to be easier to predict, said Camp. “Before there was easy access to electricity and air-conditioning, everybody knew it was coming. If you were suffering in the heat all night, you’d have your windows open, and you’d feel the cool air. It usually comes through between 04:00 and 07:00, and it was just glorious to have that drop in temperature. We’re less likely to notice it now because we’re in comfort inside our houses with the air-con running.”
When the Morning Glory rolls in, your first sight is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. “It’s quite an eerie sensation as the wind picks up and the temperature drops,” said Wilkinson. “And then it’s amazing. You get some that are whoppers, with smooth, cylindrical clouds, others with fluffy bits at the top. When you get a nice big one, it’s absolutely unbelievable.” When it passes over the town, she added, you feel like you can almost reach up and touch it.
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