Rain in New South Wales has meant that everything looks lovely and green but it is now a green drought, which the farmers are warning means the underlying drought is still there.
The rain has helped bring the spring flowers out, including my favourite Wahlenbergia, or “royal bluebell.” (It is the official flower of the Australian Capital Territory but I see it more in New South Wales). I was disappointed to learn that there is no known Gamilaraay word for Wahlenbergia, probably because words for things not essential for life are the first ones to be lost. The dainty Wahlenbergia flowers make a beautiful blue haze along the roadsides, but are difficult to photograph with a cellphone.
There was more light rain and grey skies last week when I was in Gunnedah, New South Wales. This reminded me of New Zealand weather, which I commented rather grumpily to a colleague. His immediate response was “Good to see the rain, but.” It was a good example of sentence-final but, a feature of Australian English which I found slightly confusing when I first heard it. I first thought it was a hanging but, implicitly leading on to another sentence. Now that I am tuned in I notice sentence-final but a lot in Gunnedah, where Australian English is stronger than among my Canberra colleagues. This grammatical change also seems to be developing in NZ English – I heard it recently from a family member who is an early adopter language-wise (you know who you are!). But seems to be following the pattern of though, which has also developed from being used only at the beginning of a sentence to being used in either position.
When I hear it, the sentence-final but is said quite firmly. And I have to remember that in this part of Australia, rain is nearly always good.