Rain in Tasmania, but training might still be on

I’d spent two days in Hobart drinking with a mate who has nothing to do with football or the bush, which was great. By the second day, though, I was champing to get back to the mountains and hard work. To the rhythm of small waves from every ute I pass and the chubby clucks at the shop who only know me as Old Dog.

   It had rained hard in Hobart. The roads were less busy for it. The bay islands pushed through and eased into and out of falling sea mists.

   The radio said the North East, my home, had had 200mm, and there was another 100 on the way. Roads would be flooded, our oval underwater. I stopped the ute and gave a lot of thought to turning around and heading deep down South, as far as it goes, to find the southern most football club in the world. To train with them and swear and curse and let people think I’m mad. To know our game.

   “Why not?” I thought. “The tracks will be water and mud. There’ll be no wood cutting today.”

   But I wanted to see who’d turn up at ours. Share that swear and curse with them. Know things that lazy bastards who would pull out, don’t. I hoped the coach wouldn’t take training indoors. I hoped he wouldn’t give us a road run.

   The closer the ute got to home, the more the rain came down. in hard, heavy surges  that whited out the windshield. I hoped the coach would kick us all our of the clubrooms and their womb of dry air. Beacue I knew, once we were in it, ankle deep in water that fell so hard you couldn’t see the middle of the ground, only then would we love it, be glad for it, and not before.

   I got home and packed my footy gear into the ute, then grabbed the chainsaw and engaged my hubs to get to training. The track would be a mess. Trees would be down.

   “Jesus Christ”, I thought. “I’m the other side of forty and living the dream. Packing a chainsaw to get to footy, like it’s no big thing.”

   I’ve been living and working in the bush for 24 years now, yet I still get a buzz out of it every time.

   I fired the ute up. The last thing I saw as I pulled out from home  was that not only my lawn, but the entire slope had flooded. A blanket of water was rolling down it as if it were grass. The storm clouds and rain had blocked out the view of the other side of the valley and beyond, as well as the trees that framed the paddock.

   I  was in the clouds.

   It looked like the liquid earth simply merged with the sky.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    Beautiful Matt. There’s nothing like running around in mud, water and wild weather to make you feel alive.

  2. matt zurbo says

    Cheers, Pamala!

  3. There is something reassuring about a chainsaw.
    On the morning after Cyclone Yasi had crossed the coast, the reving of a chainsaw was like a call to the community to come out and help. I have two neighbours who have barely spoken for three years, (A minor dispute over a burglar alarm…..which was operating when one neigbour went away for a long weekend).Our street as blocked by a very large fallen tree. The three of us had it clear in just under an hour, all with one embarrassingly small stihl. The wind could have blown a dog off a chain, but the buzz of chainsaws near and far, let everyone know that while it wasn’t quite over the recovery had started. Of course they are bloody dangerous, there were many more injuries from chainsaws than there were from the storm.

  4. matt zurbo says


    Mate, classic! True! Gold.

  5. Matt – what do you do for a quid way up there in the hills?

  6. johnharms says

    Whittles, dabbles with the steel guitar, and dips Boags in to the local creek to turn it into guinness.

  7. Dipping Boags into a creek and turning it into Guinness is a backward step even if Guinness is ok. It’s not as good as Boags.

  8. Handsomejosh says

    Who is Matt Zurbo?

  9. Matt Zurbo is “Old Dog”, the subject of the concupienct desires of chubby checkout chicks, jaded barmaids and loveless women throughout the Apple Isle, a good man with a chainsaw and an indefatagable footballer….can’t you read boy!!

  10. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Matt and Mul, they are lumberjacks and they’re ok.

  11. Mul, are there many loveless women in the Apple Isle?

  12. Well put it this way … if a couple of fine gentlemen of a certain age, let’s say for arguements sake you and me were to go there, I can imagine that there would be many women who would be reassessing their situation.

  13. #11,

    No John, most of them have brothers


    Mulcaster, foreign blokes like you and JTH would not get a look in over here. But it’s relatively easy for us local blokes.

  14. #10

    Yeah Phil ‘we wear high heals, suspendies and a bra” under our Magpie tops.

  15. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Really Phantom? I thought they kept them in their ‘handbags’.

  16. Thats Carlton Phil.

  17. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Lol and touche Phanto! Nice comeback :)

  18. Mulcaster says

    I note that the flooding in Tasmania is continuing, I hope you fare well during this time.

  19. matt zurbo says

    Cheers, mate. Hi and dry. About to get a load of wood. Wouldn’t want to be trying to get out of St.Helens, though.

  20. Matt
    I am very pleased to learn that all is well.
    You live in a lovely part of the world.
    God, however has set up camp on Magnetic Island.
    The temperature has moderated, the wet is over and Insallah the fish will be biting over Easter.

  21. Rick Kane says

    Great read Matt and in response to Pamela (#1), one time last year my wife’s mother was very concerned that I was taking young Jackson to training as cats and dogs were coming down in bucketloads and she was worried the young lad would catch a cold. By the by, he did. However he also experienced something spontaneous and quite wonderful. The Under 9s completed 40 minutes of training in the pouring rain. Training is held at Moore Park, Reservoir, near Edwardes Lake and you can imaging how muddy the ground can get. Muddy enough for 20 or so nine year year old footballers, following training proper, to damn the torpeados and go charging into it. Within a minute 20 fresh faced younsters were muddy little monsters. This went on for a while, even dragging the coach into the mud. It was fantastic. Better than team building.


  22. Pamela Sherpa says

    Fantastic to hear Rick.

  23. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great Read Matt , and , I have always thought it weird that there is this thought of so many , I am not training it I raining huh you play in it embrace it you morons !
    Surely you would want to practice the different skills and requirements of wet weather
    Rick good on the courage of the under 9s coach to be prepared to face winging parents never mind that the kids loved it .
    The , 1 thing , I am terrified of as a gardener Is a chainsaw too dangerous for my coordination level Thanks as always Matt Z

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