Fodder drops begin as producers grasp aftermath of devastating deluge

Fodder drops begin in north west Queensland after devastating floods


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Beef producers Jeff and Debbie Nichols with Rural Aid hay bales at a collection point in Winton.

Beef producers Jeff and Debbie Nichols with Rural Aid hay bales at a collection point in Winton.

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It is hoped more fodder drops will get off the ground on Sunday.

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Producers in north west Queensland are coming to grips with the devastation caused by the recent deluge as relief efforts in the region crank into gear. 

Although they know there are tough days coming, beef producers Debbie and Jeff Nichols are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The pair were stranded in Winton on Saturday afternoon, trying to find a way to get back to their Bendemeer Station cattle property about 100 kilometres north west of town. 

"Jeff got caught in here with the rain and he wasn't able to get home, but we do have someone out there looking after the property and the animals," Debbie said. 

"At this stage we haven't been able to get home to see what's happened."

The Australian Defence Force delivering supplies to Julia Creek.

The Australian Defence Force delivering supplies to Julia Creek.

 So far about 40 of their cattle had died in the floods that swept north west Queensland, although Debbie said the situation could be worse on other parts of the property. 

On Bendemeer they run about 800 head of cattle as well as a small number of sheep.

"Until we can get a chopper and get home we can't say how bad the situation is," Debbie said.

"The hardest part is not knowing what is at home. I'm sure once we get there the devastation will really hit harder."

Debbie and Jeff said there were plenty of producers in the region who had been hit harder and needed help more urgently than they did.

Jeff said once they got through the tough coming days, there was hopefully light waiting for them at the end of the tunnel. 

Flood waters receding on the Landsborough Highway between Longreach and Winton.

Flood waters receding on the Landsborough Highway between Longreach and Winton.

"With the rain we've had the feed burst we will get will hopefully be massive. 

"The grass is coming. The cattle might not get their tongue around it for a little while, but it's coming."

Defence force helicopters have been helping with fuel deliveries out of Julia Creek and Richmond. 

Help in the way of fodder for flood-stricken producers started making its way out of Hughenden on Saturday. 

Swimmers take to the Flinders River as flood waters receded on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Jane McNamara.

Swimmers take to the Flinders River as flood waters receded on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Jane McNamara.

Flinders Shire Council Mayor Jane McNamara said commercial helicopter pilots had delivered about 15 bales to producers in the south west quadrant of the shire.

"The hay has been secured locally, they'll just keep dropping it until it's no longer needed," she said.

"They'll start again tomorrow morning, flying the bales in a cargo net. It's a very long sling, with round bales rolled into the net."

With flood waters slowly receding, she said that it was a welcome sight to watch children again playing on the banks of the river on Saturday afternoon. 

"We did a lot of river bank restoration. It's worked an absolute treat. Now the kids think it's Bondi."

Rural Aid hay drops coordinated out of Winton would hopefully get off the ground on Sunday morning, the charity's spokesman Richard Forbes said. 

"Four truck loads have arrived, we've got another 350 bales coming tomorrow, and another 300 bales on Monday. 

"We will keep the trucks coming until the farming community tells us they are OK and the cattle are alright."

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