Jim Mathieson's garden of bamboos should be flourishing despite almost six parched months of no rain.
In usual years, Katherine's torrential wet season would bring enough rain to carry the fast-growing plants through the bone-dry months.
Katherine is in the midst of one of its driest years yet, with just over half of its average rainfall recorded from the wet season just past.
"It is a lean year, that is for sure," Mr Mathieson - a veteran Katherine weather watcher - said.
"It is not the driest year we have had, but it is up there."
Mr Mathieson moved to Katherine in 1981 as a math and science teacher and was the official weather observer in town from 2005 to 2011.
On average, Katherine records upwards of 1100mm of rain.
Even in retirement from weather duties, from his backyard garden rain gauge Mr Mathieson kept a keen eye (and precise recordings) on rain levels, and totaled just 745.
My biggest concern is to see how we go in the hotter months when the water use is up.Jim Mathieson
"I have never seen the river so low in my time living here," he said.
"The highest the river reached was six metres, for about one day, and that is remarkable. It means the aquifers won't have had their usual fill."
The Katherine Times spoke to Mr Mathieson in February, at a time he had recorded just 515mm of rain in his backyard gauge.
At the time, the "shocking" wet season was cause to reason the year ahead would be tough, for the town, for farmers and for fruit growers.
While he stands by his previous comments he is more optimistic Katherine - a near tropical place with varied weather patterns - will pull through.
"Rural Darwin is in trouble," he said.
"The underground water is likely to be well down on many years, probably impacting bores in Darwin more than us.
"Berry Springs nature park has been closed and I have never heard of that.
"But our drought conditions are nowhere near as bad as Queensland and New South Whales. There are plenty of rural towns with real water problems.
"I'm not a doomsday person, but Australia in general should be looking at how climate change is impacting us."
He said Katherine has maintained a good underground water supply, and until the Katherine River dries up completely, there is little cause for concern.
"The Top End is less affected by drought and the change of seasons than the rest of Australia."
But Katherine is made unique by its water contamination from the toxic chemical PFAS and long standing water restrictions in place as a response.
"We won't have to leave town, things won't close down but our PFAS cleaner won't be here until the end of the year or longer," Mr Mathieson said.
"It could be a struggle dealing with restrictions in September and October, when things really start to heat up.
"My biggest concern is to see how we go in the hotter months when the water use is up.
"The river usually gets down to this level, we still have water flowing through the Hot Springs, but I dare say it is lower than some years, posing a future risk for how much water we can take out in a long dry season."
The Bureau of Meteorology has tipped a late rainfall onset for much of Northern Australia, and Katherine is sitting at a less than 35 per cent chance for early rainfall.
"The chance of an early rainfall onset for northern Australia in the 2019-20 season is below average over large parts of northern Australia," BoM states on its website.
DENR water assessment director Des Yin Foo said it is likely Katherine's groundwater flows will be maintained through to the next wet season.
"The Katherine Tindall Limestone aquifer is like a huge sponge and holds water really well over long periods of time, which is why this year's monsoon failure was not expected to create the difficulties for water supply that are being experienced elsewhere in the Top End," he said.
"Contrast this to Darwin's many aquifers that are much smaller and less able to hold water for long periods of time."
The Katherine Times spoke to the NT Government's water assessment director, Des Yin Foo earlier in the year who said a plan is in place to sustain the Katherine region's many bores, despite the poor wet season.
He likens the lack of rain to an "extreme event", but said it was not time to panic.
"For the Katherine area it is not as concerning as areas such as Darwin, which is facing serious concerns on ground water levels," Mr Yin Foo said.
Read more about the Katherine Tindall Limestone Water Allocation Plan here.
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