The western Queensland cattle industry is looking for answers after widespread and non-damaging rain this wet season has failed to grow grass in large parts of the area.

Key points:

  • Widespread rain in north-western Queensland has failed to make grass grow, causing concern among graziers
  • Flinders Shire mayor and grazier Jane McNamara has asked the Department of Agriculture to try to diagnose the problem
  • Grazier Peter Hall says the problem is widespread among western Queensland properties

A horror run of seasons has plagued the region, with years of drought followed by floods in 2019 that killed 500,000 head of livestock.

While the rain this year has been patchy, and some areas have missed out, the general trends have been the closest to a “normal” wet season in years.

Flinders Shire mayor and grazier Jane McNamara said on large parts of her property, south of Hughenden, the greenery did not follow the rain.

“The main response is a little bit under dead prickle trees and along the creek where there’s been a flood. Other than that, there’s really not a lot of response at all.

“It’s not just the grasses — it’s the weeds as well.”

Green grass under a rainbow

Some places in north-west Queensland have grown grass, but large parts have not responded to rain.(

Supplied: Liz Hassett


Looking for answers

A Facebook post by a grazier in Julia Creek generated plenty of discussion with other landholders experiencing the same issues.

But few answers were given to the problem and Cr McNamara said she had contacted extension officers from the Queensland Department of Agriculture to see if they could investigate.

“We do keep records of the stock and we take photographic records of the growth,” she said.

A similar event last year drew some speculation that it was linked to the 2019 floods, where two years of rain fell in one week.

But Cloncurry and Julia Creek grazier Peter Hall suspected the two events were unrelated.

“I mean, it was very wet, but it wasn’t under water,” Mr Hall said.

“But any country that had that follow-up rain after that flood event it all grew grass.

A brown landscape sits beneath a vivid blue sky, with a few green patches of grass remaining.

Few patches of grass remain after grasshoppers destroyed pasture at Darr River Downs near Longreach. Other places have not grown grass at all.(

ABC Western Queensland: Craig Fitzsimmons


‘A bit like the buffel dieback’

Mr Hall said the failure of paddocks to thrive was a “phenomenon”.

“Some areas are growing the Mitchell grass, other areas are as dead as anything.”

Mr Hall said he was planning to wait before putting too many resources into sorting out the problem.

“I’ve probably got to wait until I get a significant event again and if nothing happens after that, well, that’s when you could start the testing,” he said.

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Rain falls but fails to grow grass in north-western Queensland
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