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Western Queensland's big wet turns farmers' fortunes around

Monday March 5, 2018 - 15:04 EDT
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The McConachy family is delighted their cattle station in Duchess is sat in floodwater. - ABC

Six of the last seven years have been tough on Noela and Bob McConachy.

The dams were going dry, meaning they had begun carting water to their cattle station near Duchess, south of Mount Isa, in western Queensland.

In the space of a few days, everything has changed — more than 115mm has fallen at their 1,200 square kilometre property since Saturday morning.

"We went from a desert to an island," Ms McConachy said.

"Everything is wet and muddy now, but beautiful, absolutely beautiful."

With floodwater surrounding their home, the McConachys and their grandchildren are not able to see the full impact of the rain on their property, but they are confident the most of the cattle would have moved to higher ground.

"If it's been widespread over the property, we'll be walking around for the next month with smiles on our faces," Ms McConachy said.

"Even though it's been good rain, it is only just a start. We need follow up to be able to say that we've got a good season.

"All those dry years have put on a lot of pressure with the constant need for the truck to travel to get a load to feed the cattle.

"This year was particularly worrying, because the dams were all going dry one by one and we were going to end up with a major water issue."

The rain has also reached the Longreach Shire Council, about 700 kilometres west of Rockhampton.

Mayor Ed Warren said the dam in the town of Ilfracombe was "bone dry" until the rain came on Saturday night.

"When I came here and looked over the wall just after 7 o'clock I got very emotional," he said.

Cr Warren said the rain would boost spirits in the region, which has been suffering from drought for years.

"We don't want our community to face this ever again, we want plenty of water," he said.

"When you're in a long drought like we've had, you've got to have something."

Flash flooding, damaging winds predicted

Parts of western Queensland have been inundated with floodwater, which brought more than 400mm to parts of the region.

A severe weather warning remains in place for an area between Mount Isa and Winton, stretching south into the channel country.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned of flash flooding, damaging winds and thunderstorms, and expects the low-pressure system to shift back north towards Mount Isa.

Cloncurry Mayor Greg Campbell said the Cloncurry River peaked at about 7 metres on Saturday night, and that had started to drop.

"Anyone living along the river that might have had water in their back yards, they'll be breathing a sigh of relief this morning," he said.

Cr Campbell said rain in recent days was welcomed by graziers who had been experiencing drought-like conditions.

"It was fantastic, steady rain, no massive big downpours that causes erosion or washes top soil away," he said.

Water supplies in the region were down at about 36 per cent, but after the rainfall it had gone back to 100 per cent.


© ABC 2018

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