The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Jordan Valley
The Jordan Valley.
In my opinion, geographers and guidebook authors have always displayed a lack of accuracy in their descriptions of the Jordan Valley. Everybody is well acquainted with the accounts given by the above, and this article is written with the object of expressing the impressions of a soldier, formed during an existence of three months in this historic Valley.
In depression, the Jordan Valley lies 1300 feet below sea level; in the opinions of those unfortunate enough to have to occupy the spot, it lies considerably lower than that. Bounding the Valley on the West stand the Hills of Judaea, eloquent of how rough hills can be; on the East are the Mountains of Moab, which are—well, something the "K.O.C." won't print. Between these two is the Valley, and every con-cievable pest, amongst which flies, mosquitoes, dust and wind predominate.
At the southern extremity the Dead Sea, the site of the historic and wicked Cities of the Plain, remains dead. Considering their locality, the inhabitants of those cities were not altogether unreasonable in being wicked, and could have pleaded extreme provocation: unless, indeed, the conditions were very different in their days.
Joshua, campaigning in these parts, destroyed Jericho by rumpets' blast. At the present time Australians are endeavouring to emulate Joshua's performance by hurling blasts of language at the town. Either Jericho of the present time is more stable, or Joshua's trumpets were more effective than the variegated, forcible expletives employed by the troops. For Jericho still remains as an example of everything that a town should not be.
Snakes are plentiful in the Valley and all are of a sociable disposition; they prefer sharing a bivvy to living out in the sun. That their feelings in this matter are not always reciprocated, is not their fault. At times they are responsible for some rare bursts of speed. One chap I knew, mistaking the loose end of his puttee for a serpent, was on a fair way towards establishing a Jericho-Jerusalem record, when a guy rope entervened; this increased his pace for a short distance, but ultimately stopped him. I think he would have been going still, if M.P's. hadn't assisted.
The Valley is traversed by numerous wadis, some of which are dry, and by thousands of Australians, all of whom are dry. Some scribes write in glowing terms of the possibilities and prospects of the Jordan Valley in the future. An institution with the most brilliant prospects at the present time would be an iced-drinks factory.
With the knowledge of duty done 'midst strenuous and unpleasant surroundings, Australians, one and all, look forward to the day when they shall say unto this Jordan Valley, so rich in Bibical associations, so suggestive of the frailty of human effort and the instability of man's work, so dusty, so pest-infested, so fever-stricken, so thirst-provoking, so bright with the prospects of better things and days—-"So long."