Rain, glorious rain!

By Paula Doran

Graziers the length and breadth of the Far West are celebrating widespread rainfall in what they are describing as the best year in over a decade.

Speaking from his property east of Broken Hill, Pastoralists of West Darling (PAWD) President, Terry Smith, said the rainfall this week was a positive follow-up from last week and consolidated a season that would set landholders up for ideal conditions in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We had 20mls of nice gentle rain here at Scarsdale and the reports I’m hearing from other graziers range from 10mls to 75mls.

Some areas received larger falls last week, and less this week, but overall, the last two weeks have been good across the board,” he said.

“People that missed out last week caught up this week.”

Mr Smith said with sheep and cattle prices high, the widespread rains would give graziers the confidence to borrow money to purchase more stock, or create a good market to sell.

“We know we have 12 to 18 months of feed in front of us, and that’s a great help when you’re planning for the season to come.”

At Goodwood Station, 50 kilometres north of White Cliffs, Louise Turner recorded 7mls over night on Wednesday, consolidating just over 200mls of rain for the year.

“It’s really nice to know that we’ll have a breather over summer and won’t have to destock,” she said.

“The rain has come at the right time of the year. We are well and truly into spring and it has been really mild which has helped as well. September and October can be really blustery with hot northerly winds – this year has been different. We’re late in seeing our summer grasses. We have good sub-soil moisture and we’ll see strong pasture growth,” Mrs Turner said.

Across at Kallara Station, north of Tilpa on the Darling River, graziers Justin and Julie McClure have been using a tinny to boat in and out of their station for a large part of the year.

Thanks to consistent rains and inflows into the Talywalka creek system, they’re now living on an island.

“It’s certainly just amazingly fantastic,” Mrs McClure said of the 2022 rainfall. “Life is bloody good.”

Though the McClures had no rain this week, they tallied 65ml last week, with a total of 400ml for the year. Mrs McClure said a property south of Kallara had recorded 730ml for the year.

“We are looking at two years of pretty good times and going into third good year…we’re well stocked, we bought in early and it’s been a hectic time with the associated animal husbandry and livestock management. The rams certainly don’t get much of a rest at the moment!

“We’ve got a great river coming down too, with an even better river to come. The Darling is just magical. I can see if from my kitchen sink, which is rather absurd.

We’ve got an 11-metre bank – the normal river level is two metres…and now we’ve got 42,000 megalitres going past each day.

“These are very prosperous times for all, it’s been a long time coming,” Mrs McClure said.

At the Murray end of the Darling, 360km south east of Broken Hill, Bree Wakefield at Banoon Station recorded 84 mls of rain in less than 24 hours when she spoke to the BDT, with falls continuing.

While the rain arrived at a challenging time for the family’s wheat crop, Bree was excited yet trepidatious. “We have cropping, so the rain at this point of time is not ideal, it’s just lucky it was slow and steady with no wind. The crops are still standing and we hope to have good weather for the next three weeks so we can harvest.

“It’s quite bittersweet when you get a rain like this – it doesn’t happen very often, and we’ve been wishing and hoping for a long time. We certainly do have a great appreciation for a weather event like this, you just can’t choose when it comes. At the end of the day you take the positives with the negatives,” Mrs Wakefield said.

“We just need it to dry out to harvest. We’re at mother nature’s mercy.”

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