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Tropical Cyclone Marcus clean up begins as stations still battle flooding from Kelvin on Kimberley coast

By Courtney Fowler and Matthew Bamford, Tuesday March 20, 2018 - 07:41 EDT
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Half of Mandora Station's productive paddocks are still flooded a month after Ex TC Kelvin passed through. - ABC

Pastoral stations in Northern Western Australia have escaped relatively unscathed from the fifth intense weather event to hit the region this cyclone season.

In Tropical Cyclone Marcus' path was Theda Station, south of Kalumburu, which appeared to be one of the worst areas hit by the system as it moved across the North Kimberley coast on Sunday.



Manager Peter Adams said it was a relief the category two cyclone was downgraded before passing through the area, bringing with it 127mm of much-welcome rain.

"We spent the last 24 hours bolting down as many things as we could and that's worked fine, it's mainly just the tree damage to clean up and a few roofs left loose," he said.

"There's a lot of big trees around the homestead but luckily they fell the right way, so we were blessed they didn't end up flattening the house.

"Some of the trees ripped up the water pipeline so we've got a bit of a plumbing job to do there once trees are removed.

"Other than that, we're all safe and happy which is a good result."

But as the clean up begins on Theda Station today, further south pastoralists are still battling flooding from the last cyclone that brought destructive winds and rainfall to the West Kimberley coast.

One month ago, ex-TC Kelvin hit Mandora Station, which borders Eighty Mile Beach, inundating more than half the 94,000-hectare property's productive grazing land.

Station manager Ben Mills said with most of the station inaccessible by car, he had already tripled his annual flying time moving cattle to higher ground.

"All the cattle are safe, we've shifted them all to higher ground but lost a lot of our best grazing country," he said.





"We can't get around on the coast at all by ground so it's all having to be done by helicopter, which is time consuming and expensive."

Mr Mills said the couple of hundred square kilometres of flooding over Mandora Station would cause delays to the start of their season.

"I think we'll probably sell at a similar sort of time but the start of the actual muster will be delayed," he said.

"It's going to be difficult, we're going to have to wait until the water resides but the grass is not going to grow back behind it so we're going to have to keep moving the cattle.

"The grass is still growing where they are, it's just they're very densely populated so they won't have enough to get right through to next wet season.

"We are lucky enough that we do have spare land, we shouldn't have to sell anything we don't need to but we're having to spend a lot of money on developing undeveloped country to house the cattle until the coast comes back up."





Mr Mills said it could take years for the damaged paddocks to regenerate — flooding damage which had not been seen on Mandora for two decades.

"We're in the hands of nature at this stage, trying to wait for this water to go away because most of the cows are on the other side of it," he said.

"I think it will be north of six months for all the flooding to go, maybe even longer.

"And the stuff that's been underwater for over a month now appears to be dead and can take up to a few years to grow back, so that's a huge production loss there."

Neighbouring station Anna Plains, which copped extensive infrastructure damage during Tropical Cyclone Kelvin, is one of several properties battling extensive flooding.

But Mr Mills said pastoralists in the area remained positive.

"It's still better than a drought because what country we do have outside of the water is going really well, so it always could be worse," he said.

"We've had a bit of a reprieve, it has been nearly a month since it's rained but only in the last few days we've had another 35mm just out of isolated thunderstorms, which is good for the grass out of the water.

"We've more than doubled our annual rainfall now, so we will be right from here on in if it doesn't rain again.

"Any considerable falls of 100mm plus would be very detrimental."

Tropical Cyclone Marcus will continue to move westwards over the next few days and will remain well offshore from the WA coast.

It will not move far enough south to have any significant impact on Broome, Derby or the Pilbara coast.

Authorities have now turned their eye to another tropical low building off the Northern Territory coast that's expected to approach WA later this week.

Broome has already endured its wettest year on record after more than two years' worth of rain fell on the Kimberley in the past two months.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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