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Rivers rising in western Qld but graziers need more rain

By Josh Bavas and Kate Stephens, Friday January 10, 2014 - 12:01 EDT
ABC image
Peter and Elizabeth Clark in the dried out dam on their property near Longreach yesterday. - ABC

Residents in western Queensland say showers this week were not enough to break one of the longest droughts in decades.

Average rainfall measuring up to 100 millimetres this week is the most to fall across western Queensland in 12 months.

Regions such as Julia Creek are struggling through their driest 15-month period on record.

Regional councils in Queensland are extending rate deadlines and offering more discounts.

McKinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy says if it was not for tourism, many businesses that rely on cattle production would be finished.

"A lot of comments were made to us that in some cases it saved local business," she said.

Graziers forced to cut stock

Cattle producer Edwina Hick says almost all landowners across the west have been reducing stock numbers.

"You can see it in people's eyes, it's pretty soul destroying," she said.

Peter Clark and his family have been producing cattle on their property near Longreach in the state's central west for the past 35 years.

He says they began preparing for the worst when the drought began more than eight months ago.

"We started selling stock off in May - sold sheep off in July and we sold more in October and we've got 1,200 left on [our] land," he said.

Mr Clark says this month's heatwave made matters even worse.

"That wind and the high temperatures, I've never seen the evaporation rate like I have in the last month. It's been horrific," he said.

"Kangaroos are starting to die because of the heat and lack of anything to eat and the lack of water; it's just drying up.

"The further south you go from here, the worse it gets."

Worst drought in decades



The Queensland Agriculture Department says it is the worst drought since the mid 1990s.

Storms brought showers to western parts of the state yesterday, but many people on the land say much more is needed.

The weather bureau says the highest totals were around Charleville in the state's south-west, with 26mm recorded just east of the town yesterday.

Rain also fell on Wednesday night and yesterday morning across western Queensland from the Gulf country to the south-west.

Forecaster Janine Yuasa says the rain from Wednesday's storms led to flood warnings for the Thompson and Barcoo rivers and Cooper Creek.

"Given the heavy rainfall of between 50 and 145mm recorded in the past two days in the area between Blackall and Windorah, our hydrologists are expecting some minor flooding likely of the Barcoo River at Retreat during today," she said.

"Some river level rises are expected for the Cooper Creek at Windorah with minor flooding possible over the next few days."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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