13 Jan 2022, 10:27 AM UTC
Gulf graziers desperate for rain, as ex-Cyclone Tiffany does little to help
Graziers across the Gulf of Carpentaria region have been left stressed and disappointed as their optimistic start to the wet season all but dries up. They were promised plenty of rainfall when the Bureau of Meteorology declared a La Niña weather event last year, but graziers are now running out of time to ensure their stock are healthy before the wet season finishes at the end of February. Ex-tropical cyclone Tiffany did little to help the situation earlier this week. Graziers were hoping it would send some rain their way but it crossed the Gulf with little to no falls for property owners. "Not much widespread rain at all. A lot of places wouldn't have got any," Almora Station owner John Clarke said. "I'm starting to get a bit disappointed in all these predictions they make; they get your hopes up and then nothing happens." Mr Clarke has already begun planning for the sacrifices he may have to make if rainfall is not forthcoming. "End of February, if nothing's changed, there'll be some decisions made," he said. "We need a good, reasonable wet. Hopefully we're just at the start because a lot of places are coming from well behind the eight ball, we need nearly the average rainfall to get us going." Alarm bells ringing On the eastern side of Ernie Camp's property, Floraville, his cattle are not retaining body weight. It is a nerve-wracking sight at this time of year. "It was promising early at the start, but it's been a bit of a fizzer since," Mr Camp said. "If we have a flooding event such as 2019, those cattle will struggle." Rain allows cattle to beef up on grass that is lusher than in the dry season and high in protein. Without a good wet, weak cattle can struggle to survive the dry season. However, without much meat on their bones, cattle will also be in trouble if there is an extreme weather event such as the 2019 monsoonal floods. In that event, which coincided with a cold snap, more than 500,000 head of cattle were killed across north-west Queensland. "We're certainly on tenterhooks with either a flooding event or a dry February," Mr Camp said. He has heard similar concerns across the Lower Gulf. "I've just been down to Burke and Wills today and it's the same there; it's very patchy and some of the cattle are still very low on weight." Mr Camp and Mr Clarke both struggled to compare this wet season to others, with rain becoming increasingly hard to predict. "We're all starting to think now, what is an average season?" Mr Camp said.