Julia Creek comes alive after devastation of drought and floods

Dirt and Dust back after Julia Creek struck by drought and floods


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McKinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy says many in town were kicking up their heels for the first time after a gruelling couple of months.

McKinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy says many in town were kicking up their heels for the first time after a gruelling couple of months.

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The town is a testament to good old Aussie mateship, locals say.

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Slim Dusty springs to mind when Julia Creek newsagent Ellen Warner thinks of the catastrophe back in February.

Julia Creek was at the centre of the devastating Queensland floods, a crippling disaster that killed as many as 500,000 cattle across the state, threatening the livelihood of producers and small towns alike.

Thinking of the painstaking recovery and repair work that made the festival possible, Ellen comes back to one of Slim Dusty's most timeless odes to Australian mateship.

"A lot of people have been making a special effort to help. There have been a lot of volunteers around. It's very humbling," she says.

"Australians just like to help their mates. It's a bit like that Slim Dusty song. Have a beer with Duncan... Duncan's my mate."

Newsagent Ellen Warner was inspired by the mateship shown to the region, which has been battling the effects of drought and flood.

Newsagent Ellen Warner was inspired by the mateship shown to the region, which has been battling the effects of drought and flood.

Dirt and Dust has been running for 25 years now, bringing crucial tourism dollars to the town in recent times of drought.

"It brings new money into town, which is especially important after the years of drought and then the devastating floods," Ellen says.

"There isn't a lot of local money coming back into towns, just because times are so tough, so it's good to have people from out of town coming here to spend.

"It feels like a lot of the travellers are coming here to support the town."

One of those making the special effort was Jemma Lever, a British expat now living in Sydney after a stint in Julia Creek three years ago.

"I come back every year for the Dirt and Dust," she says.

"My boyfriend and I met out here and we keep coming back to see old friends. This is the third year I've come back."

QCWA Julia Creek branch president Lyn Clout, the baker of Queensland's best scones.

QCWA Julia Creek branch president Lyn Clout, the baker of Queensland's best scones.

Just down the road from Ellen's shop is the Julia Creek branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association.

In the kitchen on Saturday morning is branch president Lyn Clout who, according to Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, makes the best scones in the state.

The QCWA spot is popular with those looking for a quiet space to watch the triathlon, and Lyn says on a busy day she might bake more than 100 scones.

Lyn says she went through 20 recipes before settling on the winning formula.

"We might not have many people in here, and then all of a sudden they come in a big rush. The first batch of scones were all gone by 10 past 10."

Exhausted cattle stand shellshocked at Eddington, Julia Creek, in the aftermath of the flooding disaster.

Exhausted cattle stand shellshocked at Eddington, Julia Creek, in the aftermath of the flooding disaster.

McKinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy says she was a touch overwhelmed to see Julia Creek thriving over the weekend.

"It's been amazing. I finished the triathlon this morning and I was just overcome with emotion," she says.

"Twelve weeks ago we were in the middle of a disaster zone. The biggest disaster we've had."

The festival was a rare opportunity for some of the locals to kick their feet up after the gruelling work of burying dead stock and mending broken fences.

"We've got property owners in town having their first weekend off since the floods," she says.

"And the landscape looks amazing. It's just beautiful out here."

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