Feature Story

Has there been enough rain to end the drought?

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Large areas of drought and bushfire-ravaged regions are covered in green grass for the first time in years, with one farmer declaring “the drought is starting to break”.

The significant weather system that brought torrential rain to parts of New South Wales and Queensland has led to euphoria for some and disappointment for others who have missed out again.

Angus cattle breeder Sam White, who lives at Guyra, 500 kilometres north-west of Sydney, said he has “smiles from ear to ear” about receiving more than 300mm of rain this year.

“An absolute relief. It is massive, significant, and absolutely greatly received,” Mr White said.

It means he will start rebuilding his cattle herd and growing crops and he is confident enough to make a big prediction.

However, Mr White is quick to acknowledge not everyone has been as lucky.

“It’s important to accept areas just outside of here are still not getting significant rain. There are still many of my colleagues in drought and I absolutely feel for them.”

So, is the drought on its way to breaking in some areas of Australia?

Blair Trewin, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said that “depends very much on where you are”.

“On the one hand we’ve seen very heavy rain across a large part of the east coast. Right down the NSW coast we’ve seen widespread falls over a few days of more than 200mm,” he said.

Mr Trewin said sustained rainfall is still needed.

“We’re not seeing the widespread, above-average falls in the inland that we’ve seen on the coast,” he said.

“Some particular places are tracking above-average for January, February, but it’s not consistent in the way it is in the coastal areas.”

INFOGRAPHIC: Totals along the coast have been impressive but inland the rainfall has been more hit and miss. (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology )

Although drought still firmly has a grip over her property, Wendy Henning said life had changed significantly in recent days.

On her farm outside of Glenmorgan, nearly five hours west of Brisbane, dust has turned into mud and there is now grass for livestock to eat.

“I can’t describe how much it lifts the morale to see green starting to poke through,” Ms Henning said.

“We are nearly beside ourselves, it’s a surreal feeling. Today we’re just a bit dazed thinking ‘oh my goodness, after all those months it has finally rained’.”

Up to 80mm has fallen at the cattle and grain property, but Ms Henning said much more is needed in Queensland.

“The drought’s definitely not broken, the pressure has been relieved and we now have options,” she said.

“A week ago we had no options. We were running out of plan A, plan B and were down to plan Z.”

That is something publican Tom Hancock is acutely aware of.

His pub in the tiny town of Collie, north west of Dubbo, is a meeting place for local farmers who have been supporting each other through the big dry.

Definitely not everyone’s getting the same amount, unfortunately,” Mr Hancock said.

“For some people obviously it’s hard, especially when they do come into the pub like this and listen to a neighbour or someone down the road and hear when they’ve got a big downpour but they haven’t got as much.

“It makes some people upset.”

Story: ABC

Written by: Swanny

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