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Parched western Qld seeks drought declaration

By Chrissy Arthur and Nicole Bond, Wednesday February 20, 2013 - 12:02 EDT

While more rain is forecast for parts of south-east Queensland today, one region in the state's far west will apply for a drought declaration due to prolonged dry conditions.

Diamantina Mayor Geoff Morton says there has not been decent rain since last March.

He says tens of thousands of cattle have left the shire because of a lack of water and pasture and the council has resolved to ask the State Government for support.

"At least 70 per cent of the shire is in serious dry times," he said.

"We have a bit of an area on the eastern side which isn't in too bad an order but the rest of it is quite dangerous.

"If it is not managed properly, cattle will die but cattle have been leaving the area since early November.

"Forty-thousand to 50,000 cattle have left the shire probably in the last three months and it is a continuing saga at the moment."

He says the neighbouring Bulloo Shire has also asked to be part of the declaration.

"It just indicates that it is not just a one-off - it is not just the Diamantina, it is widespread," he said.

"It goes from Mount Isa, to Birdsville, east to Charleville really.

"This has been coming for a while - I know a lot of places have been preparing for it for six months.

"Cattle have been leaving here from early November.

"I would be very very confident of being declared a drought area, that is for sure."

Western Queensland grazier Sandy Williams says there are still large areas of the inland desperate for soaking rain.

Mr Williams, from Ilfracombe, says some of the local creeks on his Rotherfield property reached their highest level in 40 years earlier this week.

He says for those lucky enough to be under storms, the rain has been a blessing because graziers were running out of water after the extreme January heat.

"That was the big problem - south of Longreach, short of water and once you run out of water, you haven't got many options really," he said.

"If there is no water close or if you haven't got a bore, there's really only one thing to do and that is get rid of stock.

"But in saying that, I realise that not everyone has had the rain and we must spare a thought for those who haven't because I know there are still people out there who desperately need it."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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