IT IS 11 months today since Anne and Michael Rayner left Oakland Station, St George, and took to the road to keep their Shorthorn breeders and progeny alive.
When Queensland Country Life first caught up with them last month, they were 15km from Taroom and watching the sky for a break in the season big enough to send them home.
"We've had little reprieve - only 75mm in small falls over six weeks. We really need decent running rain to get through winter," Anne said.
It was just enough to enable them to feed up and offload 80 cows and calves in reasonable condition back home, but with prices remaining suppressed, selling the rest isn't an option after spending so many months trying to retain a core herd.
They are now 50km away from Taroom, making their way with 1100 head towards Roma at a pace of 5km a day.
Although there has been another 50mm of rain, it could be at least another two-and-a-half months before the couple and their five-year-old daughter Maria head home.
"We didn't get a lot, but it was just enough to keep bits and pieces green. It won't be the easiest, but we might get through winter," Michael said.
In September, the Rayners joined their cows on the road, so the push is on to be able to reach Oakland Station before they calve.
"If it happens that it doesn't rain, then we will have to hang out a bit longer - but that's a long way off at the moment."
So far, they have lost about 90 head of cattle.
"We come from flat country, so when we came to gullies the cattle have really struggled and we lost a lot that way, and being weak cattle, too.
"Another time we went through a dam, and when we came out, 20 head were bogged."
With the rain and the green pick, the cattle have responded and now have the strength to walk out of a bog.
This is the first time the family has droved, but they decided it was the most economical way to keep their core herd.
"When you only get a return of $250 for a cow and calf, we bit the bullet and said we would take them on the road," Michael said.
It was meant to be a short stint.
"It's been an experience and a lot of hard work, but we still have our cows at the end of it. A lot of people have sold their herd, and to replace your breeders is a big expense."
Although the market has jumped slightly, it has not been enough to recover, and this prompted the Rayners to keep their weaners - using nose rings.
"It will start to climb, and every day we can keep these cows on the road we are probably making an extra 10 cents a kilo."
As the Rayners and their backpacker help continue home, Michael is looking forward to two things.
"A month's holiday will be a good start.
"And it will be nice to get home, turn on a tap and get water, rather than finding a waterhole."