A western Queensland grazier who is entering his ninth official year of drought says the way Australians think about the phenomenon needs to change.
- 65 per cent of Queensland remains in drought
- South-west grazier Kenton Peart says drought is a normal part of life
- Goondiwindi farmer Alan Rae says he is thankful to be leaving the drought behind him after eight years
Sixty-five per cent of Queensland remains in the grip of drought after five council areas had their drought status revoked at the recommendation of Local Drought Committees (LDCs).
Kenton Peart’s property Dunvegan near Charleville was not among them.
But he said the doom and gloom of the drought overlooked the great innovation and success farmers had achieved despite the odds stacked against them.
“There is a really positive story — people and businesses learning to deal with drought better,” he said.
Rebranding the drought
Life on the land is a constant battle with nature and the decade-long drought in Queensland has brought loss and devastation to many.
But Mr Peart believed graziers had worked hard to adapt and create sustainable and successful businesses that deserved to be celebrated.
“Drought is a major part of our business out here … it’s just the way it is,” he said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity and I suppose in the past 10 years … there’s been a lot of adaptation.”
With no end in sight to the drought in his region, Mr Peart said he was proud of how resilient his neighbours – and the industry – had become.
“I think it’s really inspiring,” he said.
“Looking at the way they’ve come through the past 10 years, I do feel as though this is a pretty tough bunch and they’ve done a lot of innovative things to drag themselves through.
‘Not a lot of rocket science’
For Mr Peart, it has been a step-by-step process over many years.
Things like exclusion fencing, early destocking, excellent vegetation, pasture and herd management, reducing reliance on surface water and introducing browsing species, such as goats, have all made a huge difference.
Maintaining a workable stocking rate was also vital.
“There wasn’t a lot of rocket science in it,” he said.
“We just tried to reduce numbers early and maintain ground cover, because the rain you do get, you tend to get far greater utilisation.”
Drought over for some
For Goondiwindi farmers, moving out of a drought is an unusual feeling.
The Goondiwindi Shire Council zone had its drought status revoked for the first time since 2014.
Cereal and merino sheep producer Alan Rae was among those rejoicing.
“We’ve got good water and good feed, so it’s time we got out of that drought situation, which we’ve been in for so long,” he said.
Mr Rae said it was usually a drawn-out process to have drought status revoked, but this time was different.
“This time it’s turned around fairy quickly and it’s all for the better, I think,” he said.
Additional reporting by Lucy Cooper