From drought babies to rain babies, families in western Queensland welcome drenching
In a pleasing change from dry conditions, families whose children were born during the drought are now welcoming “rain babies” arriving during the wet.
While New South Wales and Victoria brace for flooding in already soaked catchments, parts of north and western Queensland that previously missed out on rain are celebrating healthy falls this week.
For Pip Clifford from Orinya Station near Quilpie, the different seasons were marked by the birth of her two girls.
First Lucy was born in 2017 during a drought and then newborn Sofia arrived as the wet weather set in.
“It rained the night she [Sofia] arrived and I think, you know, she’s our good omen … we have our drought baby and our rain baby,” Ms Clifford said.
Now four years old, Lucy did not see decent rain in the first two years of her life. But for her sister Sofia, it has rained almost every week since her birth in late August.
“I’ve got pictures of her [Lucy] sitting in bulldust feeding out lick [feed supplements],” she said.
“She stayed up well past her bedtime last night with her father playing out in the garden.
“We were ankle-deep in water and looking at the lightning and running around in the rain.”
Dusty paddocks turned into puddles
It has been the perfect season to test new water retention works at the property with more than 300 millimetres of rain recorded already this year.
Ms Clifford said her partner had been trialling ponding to minimise runoff to retain topsoil and moisture to be better positioned in the next dry.
“You can really see the difference,” she said.
“We go out and check on our grass very often and we’ve got markers so that we can go and see how much it’s grown.”
For Paniri Cattle and Carbon Company operational manager Ivan James it’s the best season he has ever seen at Boobera, north of Eulo, where the country has transformed before his eyes.
“Our annual average is around about 14 inches (355mm) for the year and we’re sitting at 25 inches (635mm),” he said.
“[The] country is probably the best it’s been in the 20 to 30 years.
“It’s fantastic to take the photos and send them through and to see the country changing every week that we continue to get more rain.”
Mr James said plants were thriving in the conditions, with a sea of wildflowers blooming in the paddocks.
“I’ve never seen native flowers like this before,” he said.
Native animals have been benefiting from the explosion of vegetation too, Mr James said, with kangaroos returning along with mobs of emus chicks, which are commonly raised by the male of the species.
“The roos are starting to move back in,” he said.
“And emu chicks, up to 12 per dad. So that’s that’s a really good sight for us.”
In another positive sign, Mr James said the mulga had gone to seed for the second time this year, which was “fantastic” for carbon farming, he said.
Jacqueline Curley at Gipsy Plains, 64km north of Cloncurry, received 44mm in an isolated storm after previously missing out on rain events.
“Which was really, really beautiful — got us out of trouble big time for a while,” she said.
“Because even though there’s very little feed there, everything’s healthy … [and] ready for when it’s [big rain] coming.”
Ms Curley said the unusual year, with small amounts of rain every few weeks, reminded her of conditions in 1973.
“It was a precursor to the huge wet in 1974,” she said.
October records already falling
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Shane Kennedy said some daily October records had already been broken and more were likely.
“Century Mine up in the Gulf country with 91mm in a day and I imagine some monthly records could be in doubt for sure,” he said.
Mr Kennedy says the rainfall is expected to increase again today in the south-west and peak tomorrow, falling from the Gulf of Carpentaria through to Longreach and Roma and possibly as far east as Goondiwindi.
The heaviest falls are expected south of Windorah and Charleville where totals are predicted to be lower, but still significant.
“Potentially 20 to 40mm on that Saturday, but we can’t rule out any isolated 50 to 100mm [falls],” Mr Kennedy said.
He says the trough will weaken as it tracks east on Sunday.
“So by the time it makes it more properly across the Darling Downs and into the south-east coast, likely you’ll see some showers and thunderstorms, but much less likely we’ll see any severe conditions,” Mr Kennedy said.
A flood watch has been issued but conditions are less dangerous for Queensland than in other eastern states.
“It extends from Cooper Creek in the west all the way to the Condamine in the east,” Mr Kennedy said.
“Generally we’ll just see minor flooding … [but there is] the potential we may see a few places get into the moderate flooding, particularly if those already in flood get more heavy rainfall.”
Mr Kennedy said another trough would move into the south-west towards the middle of next week, but with less intensity than what had already been seen.
“It’s looking less dangerous for Queensland at this stage,” he said.