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Lismore floods - a farmer's perspective

By Lynelle Rogers, Executive Assistant Eastausmilk
March 19 2022 - 12:00am
Picture: Peter Graham

Peter Graham, Rich River Farms, Coraki, NSW, knew this flood was going to be a significant one due to prior rainfall on the Thursday, Friday (300mm), Saturday (500mm) which come down from the three catchment areas, that were already full, into the Wilsons River.

On Sunday at 9.55pm Peter received a text from a friend saying "a lot of water's coming your way mate, so be prepared". The three catchments upstream were at record levels of 15.4 metres. Never has this level of water been seen before.

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On the home front internet was intermittent so Peter couldn't even check the Bureau of Meteorology, but when he finally did it hit home for him and his family.

Living on a flood plain and experiencing the levels of previous floods, Peter had some idea what he and his family were in for, but not to the magnitude of what did happen, such was the amount of water and speed in which it was travelling.

"Compare this flood to other floods, it would normally take 12 hours to fill our basin - this flood took four hours," Peter said.

When Peter arose on the Monday morning, across the gully he saw 100 odd cows stranded, which didn't want to move, and to get to the cows was going to be a mammoth task. Experiencing a moment of anxiety after seeing the cows, he had no answers as to how to get to them - he could only hope that they would be safe in the long term.

What goes through your mind at that moment?

Peter feels fortunate today as he reflects on the past weeks. He knows he has lost a few cattle where he leases property but can't get to that property at the moment to see the aftermath.

On the Sunday night after the storm Peter had no power for nine days due to a generator malfunction and not being able to source another one immediately. He has been milking once a day for the past week and his first load of milk was picked up on Saturday morning.

With the ongoing issue of dealing with mud, mastitis, machinery issues and the list goes on, this flood will go down in history for all of the wrong reasons.

The enormity of the situation becomes apparent and raises some valid questions as to "why am doing this?".

"Because I love being a dairy farmer and I love my cows!"

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