Central west rain a mixed bag so far

Landholders hope ongoing rain will fill in gaps in central west


Two-year-old April Batt and her four-year-old sister Daisy Batt were nearly as happy as their parents when the creeks started to run muddy water at Hillview, Muttaburra after 50mm of rain on Saturday night. Photo by Ian Batt.

Two-year-old April Batt and her four-year-old sister Daisy Batt were nearly as happy as their parents when the creeks started to run muddy water at Hillview, Muttaburra after 50mm of rain on Saturday night. Photo by Ian Batt.

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Parts of central western Queensland have been drenched by some of the best rainfall totals in 18 months, while others have only received a hint of moisture.

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Parts of central western Queensland have been drenched by some of the best rainfall totals in 18 months, while others have only received a hint of moisture.

The low pressure system tracked west from Townsville late last week, bringing heavy falls to the Cloncurry-Mount Isa region, before heading south to parts of the central west.

One of those delighting in the sound of heavy rain on the roof and water running through the paddocks were Ian and Winnie Batt and their two young daughters, April and Daisy, who arrived home at Hillview from a Muttaburra Golf Club function at 9.30pm just as the rain started.

“It rained all night – it was the most beautiful sound,” Winnie said.

They recorded 50mm, which came on top of a 60mm storm on their property north of Muttaburra last weekend.

They say they can’t remember the last time they recorded two significant rain events a week apart, and said it brought them more rain than they’d had all last year.

Without it, they were planning to completely destock the property within the next couple of weeks, being lucky enough to find agistment.

“It’s a great start. We were looking down the barrel of nothing so we’re lucky we can run something now,” Winnie said.

An oncoming storm, photographed by Keith Gordon, El Kantara, west of Longreach.

An oncoming storm, photographed by Keith Gordon, El Kantara, west of Longreach.

Property owners west of Longreach were also rejoicing at the news of near-empty dams filling, even as two of them weren’t able to be home to watch it.

Mac McClymont, Dalkeith, and Rose Philp, Angeldool, were attending a function in Toowoomba when the radar began showing the cloud mass gathering between Winton and Longreach on Saturday afternoon.

The good news from home soon began filtering in and Rose couldn’t contain her excitement.

By Sunday morning the property had received over 100mm.

“It’s alway hard to miss the rain – there’s nothing like hearing the sound of rain on a tin roof,” she said. “But it’s a very good feeling.”

She wasn’t sure if the soaking had filled the house dam but said it had “got us out of trouble”.

While it was a huge relief, she didn’t think many would race out and buy stock on the strength of it.

“With this late start we’ll wait and see what the response is but also hopefully there’s follow-up coming.”

Mac said he would have “not a chance” of getting home further down the same road Rose lived on to see the effects of the 46mm received at Dalkeith, but he could happily cope with that.

“I didn’t know whether I should go away or not but I thought I’d tempt anything to make it rain,” he said.

Their last good rain event was in winter 2016.

He said he wouldn’t call the drought over until he could fully stock his property and keep it that way.

“The last 10-15 years, we’ve been down, back up a little bit, down again.

“It’s so long since we’ve been fully stocked that we won’t be having a ridiculous celebration over it.

“Some of our country has got to start from scratch so it’ll be slow. It’s getting late in the season to bulk up to any extent.”

They were also on the verge of seeking agistment for cattle so they could carry their sheep flock through, but have cancelled that order.

It was a different story for fellow traveller, Bruce Collins, whose family at Daintree, north east of Winton, had only received 5mm in the last week.

“I don’t believe there have been too many Facebook posts back up the Corfield-Stamford area celebrating the rain,” he said.

“You wouldn’t be out here if you weren’t an optimist and you’ve just got to wait for the next change, and you never know when it comes.

“It’s one of these things with decaying low pressure systems at this time of the year – some people can get all their dams full and a wonderful season and others not so far away see very little benefit. I’ve seen it before.”

Richmond Shire Council mayor, John Wharton, posted photos of the Stawell River spreading out across the Cambridge crossing on Sunday morning, but commented that while it had been nice rain in his area, it still needed to go south of Richmond and Hughenden, describing it as patchy.

In the south, Bob Long reported on Sunday afternoon that Yaraka had had 24mm, “which has been absorbed into the ground like blotting paper”.

Like many others, he was hoping the rain influence would continue to make its presence felt over coming days to help fill in the gaps.

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