At least 2,000 cattle have already been found to have died in floodwaters and from exposure after three days of relentless wind and rain during last week’s ex-cyclone crossing of WA’s Pilbara.
Combined with damage to roads, infrastructure and fencing, pastoralists have speculated the damage bill could be in the millions of dollars.
Sherlock Station, 100 kilometres north-east of Karratha, received almost 600 millimetres of rain over three days.
Warning: An image follows of stock losses that may cause distress.
Station manager Andrew Rose said he had never seen anything like it.
“It’s stressful at the time, and then seeing what you see flying over and so many stock losses — it is pretty hard to take,” he said.
“[Losing] thousands of cattle certainly turns into millions of dollars.”
Sherlock Station is part of the Bettini Beef Pastoral Group which takes in the De Grey, Pyramid, Mallina and Warambie stations.
General manager Mark Bettini believed the group had lost more than 1,500 head of cattle across its properties.
“They’re only the cattle I’ve seen. What about the ones I don’t see? Or the ones that have floated away?” he said.
Mundabullangana (Munda) Station, 100 kilometres south-west of Port Hedland, also
suffered heavy rainfall and stock losses during the event.
Its owner Michael Thompson said he could not yet put a figure on the losses, but the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said at least 500 cattle had died in the Port Hedland Coastal Plain region where Munda Station sits.
“We’ve lost cattle, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“But we’ve still got cattle walking around on islands out there, and it’s not like we’ve lost everything.
“We’ve just lost some of our herd which may have happened if we’d had no rain.”
Tropical Cyclone Veronica hit coastal pastoralists after almost
one year of drought conditions.
Sherlock Station’s Andrew Rose said although it would take time to reconcile, despite the damage the rainfall was needed.
“It’s been a bittersweet experience,” he said.
“The rain is certainly welcome, and the stock that are still here should put condition on quickly and do well.”
While Pilbara pastoralists prepare for a second potential system in the coming weeks, they asked for the public’s patience and understanding during a difficult clean-up effort.
“Moral support is the biggest issue,” Mr Rose said.
“Understanding there’s nothing that we really could have done … to stop the losses.
“It was almost a once-in-a-lifetime sort-of system for us.”
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