A BLACKENED landscape splashed with green and devoid of livestock, or animals of any kind except flies – this is the impression one gets travelling around the state’s north and far west at present.
Rain around Winton has given the countryside a brilliant emerald green tinge and brought on a frenzy of grasses madly seeding and reproducing, and it’s a heartening sight to see a triple road train loaded with cattle crossing a grid into a property for a change, rather than hauling another load off to whatever market the landholder can find.
Then you travel north from Kynuna towards Julia Creek and come to the sobering reality of bare ground again, with a few green weeds giving evidence of the only shower of rain that country has received, or north west to McKinlay where all the symptoms of a “green drought” are standing out – very green shoots carpeting the ground but very short.
In other places good grass growth is yellowing and drying out for lack of a follow-up drink.
None of these scenarios will suffice to give landholders reason to restock or feel confident about the approaching winter.
Click on the image to see a gallery of photos from the state's north and far west.
McKinlay mayor Belinda Murphy says all that’s been received is storm rain, not a general break to the season.
“Rainfalls range from 150mm to 15mm and most people I talk to say that by June or July they’ll be back to where they were last October. It wouldn’t get us un-drought declared, that’s for sure.”
West of Winton, travelling along the first stage of “Australia’s Longest Shortcut”, the Outback Way, to Boulia, it’s a similar story – dark green balls of spinifex climbing up the mesa outcrops giving way to acres of black stalks of nothing.
The windmill clanking at the Menin stock route water bore west of Middleton is the only sound in a lifeless landscape, but just 30km further on, seeding grass of every description is waving round the legs of the signpost to Old Cork station.
All across the west, green or black or bare, you’re hard pressed to see any livestock.
Boulia mayor Rick Britton says most properties in his area would be half stocked at best and it will be a long road back to earning money.