Grazier Matt Bartlett says the drought has taken a toll on his family life. (ABC News: Elly Bradfield)
Parts of drought-stricken South East Queensland are experiencing an unprecedented dry spell, with some regional centres going several months without recording a drop of rain.
- Parts of the Southern Downs and western South East Queensland have seen up to 72 days without rain
- One farmer outside Warwick said his property is so dry it looks like a “lunar landscape”
- The Bureau of Meteorology said Queensland is in the dry stage of its weather cycle
Warwick has not recorded any rainfall for 72 days, breaking the previous record of 58 days set in 2017.
The situation is similar in the small town of Rathdowney, where locals have not experienced a dry stretch this long since the rain monitoring station opened in 1973.
It has not rained in Ipswich and Allora for almost 50 days.
Meteorologist Harry Clark said Queensland was in the dry stage of its weather cycle.
This dam at a Coleyville farm in Queensland’s Scenic Rim had an overflowing dam in 2017 (top) compared to the dry scene in 2019. (Supplied: Amanda Bolton)
“We’ve seen up to 72 days without rain through much of the Southern Downs now and western parts of South East Queensland as well, so it’s a really significant dry stretch,” he said.
“It’s coming off the back of a really dry summer and previous winter as well, so it’s been a really significant time since any of those places have seen substantial rainfall.”
Fourth-generation farmer Andrew Costello said his property outside Warwick was “looking the worst it’s ever been”.
“It’s virtually a lunar landscape,” he said.
“[There’s] only a bit of patchy old dead grass left and water supplies are drying up and it’s very dusty.”
A view the Condamine River from a farm at Cecil Plains shows it was much greener in December 2018 (top) than in August 2019. (Supplied: Sarah Pearce)
In the past, Mr Costello would run up to 150 cows and 2,500 sheep on his property, but the drought has forced him to sell off most of his stock.
“We’re on Thanes Creek here, where we’ve relied on water for stock for 100 years, and it’s virtually bone dry,” he said.
On another property near Warwick, grazier Matt Bartlett said he felt like he was “treading water” while waiting for rain to come.
“It does take its toll, especially on your family life,” he said.
“I haven’t really had much time off over the last few months, just because I’ve been flat out feeding sheep just trying to keep them alive.”
It hasn’t rained in the Darling Downs town of Allora for almost 50 days. (Supplied: Garry Wilkinson)
The drought has forced Mr Bartlett to destock, meaning he now spends all his time and money getting his sheep to a condition where they can be sold off.
“It will rain again one day and that’s what you’ve got to focus on,” he said.
Rathdowney Bowls Club president Dot Cooke said the drought was having a devastating impact on her beloved club.
“A bowling green needs lots of water to keep it in good condition, and of course we’re getting no rain and we’re watering from the town water supply which is extremely expensive,” she said.
“It looks very sad. We are struggling to keep it playable — we can’t have major competitions because you couldn’t reasonably invite people to come from distances to come and play.
“It’s very depressing to be honest … everything is brown and barren and dusty.”
Andrew Costello said there’s only dead grass left on his property outside Warwick, where water supplies are drying up. (Supplied: Andrew Costello)
Mr Clark said some showers and storms were forecast for the region over the coming days, but it would not be enough to break the drought.
“They’re not going to be huge [rainfall] totals but it looks like it could potentially break that run of the record number of dry days, so fingers crossed,” he said.
“At this stage it’s not looking like there’s going to be much of a break [in the dry conditions] in the next three months, but we can keep our fingers crossed — as we know all it takes is one big event to see some significant rainfall totals.”