’Scuse Me While I Dis This Sky
(or: ‘Anybody Know Dust?’)


A dust storm blowing in from South Australia and western New South Wales failed to make the news – despite eclipsing Broken Hill the previous afternoon – until it created an eerie early morning red haze when it reached Sydney. Before it eventually faded to a sepia tinge for most of the day, most people awoke to an extended orange coloured sunrise – and then had difficulty avoiding awesome, albeit disturbing, photos online. Which in time gave way to that bloody Kanye West meme. (‘Yo, Sydney, I’m gonna let you finish; but Mars/LA/Africa has better eerie colouring/poluted skies/all-enveloping dust storms…’.)

By the end of the day, news outlets were reporting that the dust clouds were stretching all the way to the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Meanwhile, Sydney’s air was 1500 times more polluted than usual.

I had intended on compiling my favourite photos from around the net – but the day got away from me. And they’re all over the place now, anyway. So I just picked a handful that are representative of a whole bunch.

Of course, the place to start is with an excellent YouTube clip of home video taken in suburban Broken Hill. If I were reporting about this on air or making a YouTube video of my own, I’d use Elvis Costello’s ‘Turning the Town Red’ and a couple of different versions of ‘Orange Coloured Sky’ (including the ridiculous Burt Ward version that Frank Zappa produced back in the late 60s) to orchestrate it. And, of course, anything from Dusty Springfield’s entire oeuvre. Oh, and how could I forget – seeing as I have a later re-issue of the 7-inch single pressed on red vinyl: ‘I See Red’ by Split Enz.

Rayneegirl’s YouTube clip of the dust storm in Broken Hill.


Lauren Jarrott’s photo of the same view of Neutral Bay, before and during the dust storm. From SMH.


Tom Hide’s excellent – but disturbing – photo of Luna Park, from his Flickr page. (How cool is the reflection in the puddle? All that’s missing is a Cyberman’s boot in the bottom left corner.)


St John’s Church, Parramatta, by Kevin Waterson, from the ABC702 breakfast radio blog.

A rather apt excerpt from a Little Britain sketch. (If it’s been particularly annoying, having that soundbite play automatically every time you’ve followed a link to more photos and then come back to this page, consider it the aural equivalent to the abrasive particles carried by high winds in the dust storm itself.)


• Rachel, pointing out this weather is “a reminder that Australia is mainly desert and nature rules everday in every way”, sent me a link to rishian222’s cool slideshow. (The musical accompaniment is ‘Great Southern Land’ by Icehouse.)

• Some 24 hours after I posted this, Adrian Raschella closed his report on the ABC1 7pm News bulletin with the Little Britain ‘Fat Fighters’ sketch that ends with “Dust! Anbody…? No…? Dust…! Anybody…? No…?” Wonder where he got the idea for that.