Australia

Officer films glee as dry Australia river starts to flow

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Media captionAn Australian police officer's unbridled joy at the first flow of a drought-affected river

Police officer Des Hansson could not contain his excitement when water began to flow through the dry bed of the McKinlay River.

Drought has taken a savage toll on the town of McKinlay in north-west Queensland, Australia, so a downpour of rain just before Christmas was the best present he could imagine.

Suspecting water would begin to flow on 18 December, Senior Constable Hansson drove to the riverbank and started filming when the water began to cut through the dust.

"Come on down … Come to papa!" he can be heard yelling in the video.

"Here she comes... wow, I can't believe how lucky I am!"

'Desperate times'

His enthusiastic and very Australian response to the river's return to life would perhaps have gone unnoticed were it not for his daughter, Tahnee, who uploaded the video to YouTube on 19 December.

This week the internet noticed it, and turned Snr Con Hansson into an overnight sensation.

Speaking to the BBC from McKinlay Police Station, the straight-talking police officer said he was excited the river had run, but his chief concern was seeing the area emerge from drought.

Image copyright Tahnee Hansson
Image caption Before: Des Hansson's daughter took this photograph before the McKinlay River started to flow
Image copyright Tahnee Hansson
Image caption After: The grass turned green after much needed rain reached McKinlay

"It's desperate times," he said. "For about three months it looked like a desert, with no green grass left."

"The ground was bare and a lot of our pastoralists had been hand-feeding the stock to keep them alive."

"We had more rain across the Christmas season than we've had in the past two years."

Image copyright Tahnee Hansson
Image caption Des Hansson, his daughter Tahnee and friends enjoy the fullness of the McKinlay River over Christmas

He said he was so excited on the video because he had not seen the river flow since moving to the area four years earlier.

"I patrol the area anyway so I just pulled up for a minute to see if the river would start. I just couldn't believe it," he said.

'It's going viral, dad'

Living in a remote area which relies on satellite internet, Snr Con Hansson remains unaware of the extent of the video's popularity.

"My daughter's been keeping me appraised of the situation. She said she had uploaded the video to YouTube and I said, 'So what?'.

Image copyright Tahnee Hansson
Image caption Tahnee Hansson says her father Des works as a "one-man police station" and is also the local fire warden in the town of 20

"But I'm excited people get to know about north-west Queensland and how tough it is out here, and how tough the people are.

"They've done well to keep their heads up it's good to see a smile on a few faces and cattle with their heads down having a good feed."

Tahnee Hanson said her father's performance in the video reminded her of an American man's infamous reaction to a double rainbow, which went viral in 2010.

"I put it on my YouTube and it wasn't really doing anything, then I woke up this morning and overnight it went from 500 views to 40,000.

"I said, 'It's going viral dad', and he kind of didn't give a rat's ass," she said.

A total of 86.1% of Queensland was declared drought-affected in December, with the extended dry spell taking a heavy toll on farmers.

Interviews by Ashley Donnelly

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