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Twin cyclones delivering heavy rain to parched outback cattle stations

Matt Brann, Courtney Fowler, Michelle Stanley and Amy Phillips, Monday March 25, 2019 - 18:15 EDT
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Brodie, Taylor and Rhys Jackman in floodwaters on Carlindie Station. - ABC

There is significant rain falling in parts of outback Australia thanks to two cyclones, with some remote cattle stations reporting their best rain in years.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Trevor has delivered more than 100 millimetres of rain to parts of the Gulf, Barkly and Simpson Districts of the Northern Territory, and is now moving towards a parched south-west Queensland.

Tropical Cyclone Veronica and has dumped between 200 and 500 millimetres in some areas of WA's Pilbara region.

Deluge in the Pilbara

Carolyn Day manages Wallareenya Station, 50 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland, where more than 240mm of rain has been recorded at the homestead since Friday.

She said the deluge from Veronica would turn their entire season around.

"We haven't had any decent rain since the middle of last year; our total for this year was 34mm before we had this rain," Ms Day said.

"Towards the southern end of our property, there's been upwards of 500mm of rain in some places, so we're expecting big flows through some of the creeks and rivers down there.

"It has been a real godsend; it's a saviour for us for the rest of the year."

Further inland, Yarrie Station near Marble Bar had received 107mm.

Owner Annabelle Coppin described the weather as a "perfect storm".

On Twitter, she celebrated the rain with a unique pot of tea made from fresh rainwater.

Brent Smoothy, from Hillside Station said the 130mm of rain in his gauge would take the pressure off.

"It saves our bacon, that's for sure," he said.

"We had to get it somewhere, and [Hillside] is where the bulk of our cattle are so it's great news for us."

Trevor saving the day for some NT stations

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Trevor was still a category one system when it passed over Cresswell Downs and Walhallow Station in the northern Barkly region late on Saturday night.

Manager Adrian Brown said while he expected there would be a very small number of cattle losses from the wet and windy conditions, it was a relief to finally see some decent wet season falls.

"We've had some good rain across the board," he said.

"We've had 160 millimetres on parts of Cresswell and about 70 millimetres across on Walhallow, so it's been a very good result.

"Most livestock are still moving around, which is brilliant, we haven't seemed to have had the large devastation we saw in Queensland last month, so that's a great result for us all."

Further south, rainfall totals include 132mm at Elkedra; 102mm at Lucy Creek; 128mm at Ooratippra, and 105mm at Murray Downs.

Huckitta Station on the Plenty Highway was about to destock some of its cattle because of the dry conditions, but then Trevor arrived with the rain.

Speaking to ABC Local radio, station worker Anna said the 80 millimetres of rain was amazing to see.

"All the cattle should be happy, the grass will grow now, so that will be great," she said.

"[The rain] has made things look a whole lot better."

Stewart Weir from Ammaroo Station, 350 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, received 100 millimetres at the homestead and said more than 170 millimetres had been recorded in other areas of the property.

"We're lucky — there's a lot of people at Alice Springs and west of Alice in the same predicament as we are and they've missed out on this rain," he said.

"I do feel sorry for them but hopefully something might come later for them."

Many stations across the north have missed out on rain from the twin cyclones, with one Territory cattleman near Daly Waters commenting that "Trevor has been a dud".

Rainfall totals for some of the NT's biggest cattle stations, such as Newcastle Waters, Brunette Downs and Alexandria Station, did not meet earlier expectations.

Trevor rain heading towards Queensland

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Trevor began its life near Queensland's Cape York Peninsula and delivered some huge rainfall totals, including more than 500 millimetres at Lockhart River.

It delivered further rain to stations in the Gulf Country as it approached the NT coastline over the weekend, including more than 130mm at Wollogorang (NT) and 104mm at Lawn Hill Station (QLD).

The Bureau of Meteorology has now predicted the weather system will cross over the NT/QLD border and bring heavy rain and damaging winds over south-west Queensland.

Rain has already started to fall near Birdsville.

Geoff Morton from Roseberth Station near Birdsville said while drought-breaking rain had not been tipped out of his gauge yet, he was hopeful more was on its way.

"Before this happened we were and that sort of saved our bacon, but general rain will do wonders for the entire region," Mr Morton said.

"Our high country was a dust bowl, it was absolutely shocking, so instead of having to move my entire herd into the river country I could spread them out."

Further south and east, landholders are already reporting their best rain since 2016.

Tanbar Station near Windorah had received 63mm of rain at lunchtime on Monday, its best rainfall in three years.

Around 30mm has been recorded at Quilpie and 43mm has fallen at Mt Howitt Station near Eromanga with more falls forecast across most of Queensland this week.


© ABC 2019

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