Incredible transformation gives hope to western graziers
EMERGING green pastures at Weetalabah Stud are a far cry from just one month ago, when Julie Nixon’s only stocked property was a dust bowl.
The drought was biting hard at the property, just south of Dulacca, and the stud had destocked or lost almost all of its cattle.
“We have roughly 40 head of cattle left of the place, and had to destock another property and bring them in, because it ran out of water and feed,” Ms Nixon said.
“It has taken me 40 years to get where I am now, and it was heartbreaking to see some of the cows die, and have to sell some of them off.”
But then the rain came.
Over the past four weeks, Weetalabah has recorded about 100mm; grass has sprung up in the house yard, the paddocks are slowly coming back to life, and in places where the rain has fallen, graziers have found a small vestige of hope.
“I was just in Rockhampton at a bull sale, and saw the smile on people’s faces,” Ms Nixon said.
“They weren’t ready to buy bulls yet, because it doesn’t rain money, but everyone has a brighter outlook.”
In Dulacca, things are certainly looking up in the short term, but graziers are also wary, because the prolonged drought does not simply go away, and its effects are wide-reaching.
“This was the driest any local has ever seen it,” Ms Nixon said.
“It is a bit of an unknown, how much of our country will come back after this rain, because it has never been this dry in history.
“There have been comments, mainly on Facebook, that the drought is broken.
“I want people to be aware that this drought is far from over …
“But the rain has certainly changed people’s outlook a little bit; we can stop feeding all our cows for a short time.”
Looking forward, the futures every grazier and farmer in the region will depend on one big ‘if’.
If the rain continues, things will get better; and if the rain continues, Weetalabah, like many others, will start to re-grow their herd.
“I was lucky enough to be able keep the last few years’ heifers alive through the drought, and concentrate on selling older cows,” Ms Nixon said.
“Now I will build my numbers back up through my own heifers – they are a very hardy breed and have done well so far.”
To date in 2020, towns around the southwest have received the following rain totals:
- Dalby: 232.4mm
- Roma: 228.4mm
- Miles: 192.4mm
- Surat: 130.8mm
- Injune: 114mm
- Mitchell: 101.6mm
- St George: 95.4mm
- Charleville: 94mm
- Cunnamulla: 79.2mm