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Graziers cart water to keep cattle alive in drought stricken south-west Queensland

By Nance Haxton, Thursday January 9, 2014 - 01:23 EDT
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Some areas of south-west Queensland have been without significant rain for 21 months. - ABC

Graziers in south-west Queensland's cattle country are carting water to keep cattle alive, as weather reports offer little hope of drought-breaking rain.

Adavale is a tiny town with just one pub and it is the hub for a usually thriving industry of surrounding cattle and sheep properties.

Publican Koss Siwers says there has not been significant rain for almost a year and he knows times are getting tough for locals.

"They're starting to actually cart water out to some of the properties. And I've had plenty of the truck drivers come in and tell me how far they're actually driving as a round trip," he said.

"One was here last week ... He was doing a 120-kilometre round trip non-stop, I think he was here for three days, carting water out to a property that didn't have a bore or any artesian water.

"And they had to get water out there to water the cattle."

Some areas have been without significant rain for 21 months.

Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Blair Trewin says the latest report confirms the grim outlook.

"Much of western Queensland, once you get more than about 300 kilometres from the coast, has had about half its normal rainfall over the last 12 months and, in some cases, less than that," he said.

"There's still potential this season to turn good but it's been fairly inactive so far.

"The one bit of good news is that, in the very short term, it does look like there's prospects for at least some rain in many of the drought areas over the next day or two which will at least get them started."

"The seasonal outlook is not particularly great for that region. For the first quarter of this year the outlook's generally indicating about a 60 to 65 per cent chance of below-normal rainfall for much of Queensland," he said.

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is heading to Toowoomba to start a tour of drought-affected regions in Queensland.

He says he wants to find out the extent of the difficulties that farmers are facing.

"I'm always terribly concerned when people have the dire alternative that if they take the cattle to sale, the price of what it'll cost them is more than what they'll get," he said.

"If they leave them in the paddock they'll starve to death, so you can't do that. So you're left with the alternative that you've got to shoot them. That is not a good experience for any person involved.

"There are also some cattle that get to the condition where they can't be transported and, of course, if you run out of feed and you don't have the money to feed them, we know what the alternative is."

But Mr Joyce says he is also aware there is only so much assistance he can offer.

"I've asked my department to do a review on the process of how these assessments take place, to make sure that the people who need the money get the money," he said.

"And obviously the money that is in, that goes directly to the household, is to deal with the crisis issues of food and clothes.

"I know that there are issues that still remain unresolved and that's why I'm doing my very best to talk to the people who are dealing with these things."


© ABC 2014

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