Four or more years of consecutive drought in Queensland has primary producers well aware of water’s sacred status.
Beef producers Warrick and Kell Freeman, Meeleebee Downs, Roma, take the title of water warriors with more than 180 troughs, 26 bores and 102 dams on their 24,300 hectare property.
His passion for water infrastructure justified Mr Freeman being deemed the water king in his local area and he said the gradual increase in water systems on Meeleebee Downs started the day the property was purchased.
“Being a Victorian Meeleebee was, in my eyes, deficient in water. For instance, there was no water in the horse yards and none of the yards in the main stockyards besides where the dip was had water,” he said.
“In Victoria no one has a dry yard and we wondered what was going on here, but it was typical of Queensland at that time.
“Back then graziers weren’t making much money because they weren’t running many cattle on those big acreages as the country wasn’t developed and they didn’t need the water- the old coal seam bores that pumped 600 gallons an hour were good enough.”
Mr Freeman said capturing water simply to have it was not the main reason for having such a wealth of the resource.
“There is a minimum of four watering points in every paddock regardless of acreages- I take water to cattle not cattle to water,” he said.
“I want the water to go where I want the cattle to work and that’s why the troughs are where they are. I make the cattle go to all four corners of the paddock to best utilise the available feed.”
“Some people say it’s a waste of money but I disagree because water is the most precious thing we have.”
Every consideration for water use efficiency has been made at Meeleebee Downs, with water pumped by windmill into turkey nests before gravity feeding to a number of troughs.
Mr Freeman said of the 26 bores in place he was only using 14 but the remaining 12 were still fully serviced and operational should a break down occur.
“Turkey nests also act as storage buffers should a problem occur. In my original planning I accounted for break downs lasting 10 days,” he said.
Mr Freeman said water quality did not slide beneath the radar either, with the majority of dams fenced to ensure cleanliness.
“The water here is as clean as dam water can be and we shift it as economically as is possible,” he said.
“Water has been identified as effected by CSG extraction on this property because many bores are only shallow, so as part of make good they have agreed to put down three precipice bores with the option of a fourth should the end result not satisfy.
“Water wise we’re fairly drought proof and that’s a lot to hope for in today’s conditions.”