Rain hits drought-stricken communities in outback Queensland

Updated November 19, 2014 15:05:21

It is raining on parched communities in Queensland’s outback, some of which have not seen a drop in half a year.

About 27 millimetres fell in Windorah in the 24 hours to 9:00am (AEST), 19mm on Thargomindah and 8mm on Longreach, but farmers say more is needed to green their grass.

The state is again on the verge of its most widespread drought on record.

The drought declaration list covers 75.5 per cent of the state after the State Government added another eight communities on Thursday, including Brisbane.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Julian De Morton said a high pressure system in Victoria and an upper low in South Australia is bringing rain to areas of western Queensland – from Richmond in the central-west, to Birdsville in the south.

The Channel Country and western parts of Maranoa and Warrego will receive the heaviest falls today.

Up to 60mm could fall on some drought-declared communities.

“They are pretty good totals for this time of year for those regions,” Mr De Morton said.

Drought-stricken Birdsville, Mount Isa and Burketown however are expected to remain bone dry.

From this afternoon, it is due to start heading towards the coast and Brisbane, where rain is expected on Saturday, to mostly clear by Sunday.

Farmers holding their breath

On the outskirts of Longreach, grazier Sam Coxon only received 3mm at his Kateroy property.

It is the first time it has rained since February.

To cope with the enduring drought, Mr Coxon has halved his stock and has spent $14,000 on food supplement for his cows and sheep this financial year.

After receiving just 106mm last year, Kateroy needs at least 25mm to green his grass.

It is a waiting game, and it could be a deadly one.

If it only drizzles and the weather turns cold, Mr Coxon said his remaining grass could be killed.

“It takes all the protein out of the grass,” he said.

“We do not know yet whether there is anything in it yet.

“We’re very much holding our breath.”

Brian Rutledge from drought-stricken Moble station near Quilpie was celebrating the rain.

“Best spring start for some years – 40 millimetres now over the last two days,” he said.

“Creeks will be running and dam filling should be happening.

“Ewes just starting to lamb, and how wonderful this will be for them.”

Windorah grazier Maureen Scott said some landholders would be “jumping for joy” over rain in parts of the drought-affected inland.

She said they have had 36 millimetres since the rain started and it was a huge boost.

“Absolutely beautiful – wonderful to hear,” she said.

“If it’s been fairly general, everyone would be jumping for joy I believe.

“We had an inch of rain on the 13th of June which did bring up a bit of green pick, but we have a lot of roos here and they all came in and ate everything off.

“But this will make a huge difference. We have got cows calving, we’ll get a bit of warm weather in September and it will stay moist for a long time.”

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Topics: drought, water-supply, rainfall, weather, longreach-4730, brisbane-4000, ipswich-4305, mount-isa-4825, toowoomba-4350

First posted August 15, 2014 10:27:21

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