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Where has all the water gone?

By Catherine Clifford, Thursday January 30, 2014 - 10:21 EDT
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Apsley Gorge Rim walking track in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. - ABC

Two major waterfalls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park have ceased to flow.

They are the Dangars Falls, 20km east of Armidale, and the Apsley Falls, 20km east of Walcha.

Walcha-based ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sam Doak, says the native animals are suffering as creeks and streams dry up.

"Well, at the moment there's lucky to be a bucket of water flowing over where as you can have thousands of megalitres in a reasonable season and tens of thousands of megalitres in a wet season," he said.

"You know, the whole bush is drying out, there's very little grass for the native animals and a lot of their temporary water sources have dried up."

Meantime, farmers on the Tablelands say it's been many years since they've seen it so dry.

Jim Young, from Walcha, says the region received only about one-third of its normal annual rainfall last year.

He says river flows are the lowest he's seen in 45 years.

"We live in the St Leonard's Creek Valley, the headwaters of the Cobrabald River, which runs into the Macdonald and then down to the Namoi River," he said.

"We're normally 50 or 60-inch rainfall and we've had nothing like that the last couple of years and it's all basalt country with lots of spring-fed dams and creeks and all the springs have pretty much dried up."

Mr Young says the drought is impacting him significantly.

"Yeah, we're probably going through two B-doubles of hay a week and we go through a B-double of grain every two weeks," he said."

"If we could only get kill space for our stock we'd be selling a lot more, but the markets are totally flooded, and it's very difficult to sell them even if you want to or need to."


© ABC 2014

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