It’s a sorry statistic – 202.3 millimetres or just over eight inches – but that’s all the rain that Charleville recorded in 2017.
The last time it was that dry was 1946, when the town had 206.4mm.
An hour down the road, Peter and Jan Lucas finished the year with half that amount, just 110mm at their Wyandra property, and it’s not leaving them with a pretty sight.
“All I’m looking at is red dirt – I’m totally over it,” Jan said.
After three years of pushing mulga to feed cattle, they’ve made the decision to send the last 300 of their breeder cattle away on agistment and have given the 1700 sheep still alive the run of the 80,000 acre property.
It’s the culmination of six years of below average rain, and Jan said she hadn’t ever seen a drought as bad in 38 years of living at Cliffdale.
“Other times we’ve had some relief but there’s been none this time,” she said.
Being able to muster feral goats and take them to an abattoir an hour up the road, Western Meat Exporters at Charleville, has been what’s kept them going.
The drought has gone on for so long that the three year eligibility period for federal Farm Household Allowance assistance has been and gone, but Jan didn’t believe it was realistic for the government to keep it going without limit.
“So many people are affected – how can they keep handing that sort of money out,” she said. “We knew it was coming to an end so that’s it.”
What keeps her going is knowing that Peter, who was born at Cunnamulla and is the custodian of the family property, is determined to stick it out.
“If he can do that, well, I just roll with it. He should be looking at retiring and going round Australia, and that’s the same for so many.
All that can save us now is rain, and then follow up, and some more.
Murweh Shire Council mayor, Annie Liston, who welcomed Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud to her shire last week, said drought relief was always needed.
“Anything that lessens the burden of what they’re going through would be a bonus,” she said.
“David Littleproud certainly knows my feelings about the drought and how much support we need.”
“He’s very pro-active and aware of the conditions rural people are experiencing, and listening to what we tell him.”
Cr Liston said one positive aspect to the situation people were struggling through was that the service providers available were local people and so they “know and feel” what was occurring.
“They really care for people’s wellbeing,” she said.
“I think the majority of people know they only need to pick that phone up and people will be there to support them.
“I think that’s happening quite well.”