Wet season start pleases pastoralists

30 Jan, 2017 02:00 AM
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There was plenty of water lying around Kalyeeda cattle station, near Fitzroy Corssing, after a good start to the wet season.
We had two bad years in a row - so we're just hoping it will keep going.
There was plenty of water lying around Kalyeeda cattle station, near Fitzroy Corssing, after a good start to the wet season.

THE Fitzroy River is flowing after recording 77 per cent more rainfall this wet season compared to last year.

This is according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), which said the top end has experienced a great wet season so far.

"Rainfall in parts of the Kimberley has been relatively high for the wet season so far," said BOM senior climate liaison officer Glenn Cook.

Fitzroy Crossing Aerodrome recorded 295.0 millimetres from October 1, 2015 to January 12, 2016, compared to 524.2mm in the same time period this season.

"The southern areas of the Fitzroy River region have already exceeded their average wet season rainfall for the whole season," Mr Cook said.

Yoogawalla Pastoral Company managers and co-owners Haydn and Jane Sale at Margaret River station, east Kimberley, said the floods were close to the Margaret River station homestead this season.

For the first time in years, the swamp lands at Bulka station, central Kimberley, were also flooded this season.

Peter Camp, Kalyeeda cattle station, near Fitzroy Crossing, said December had already received a record breaking amount of rainfall, after witnessing his cattle yards being flooded for the first time.

"The rainfall has been pretty widespread throughout the Kimberly," Mr Camp said.

"We got 90pc of our yearly average in December, and with the monsoons around it has just continued to come."

Kalyeeda has a 450mm average, however it recorded 424mm in December and had a further 170mm so far in January.

While most pastoralists experienced good rainfall in January last year, Mr Camp said the rain had dried up, with little rainfall throughout March.

He said this was less likely to be the case in the Kimberley this year with predictions of further cyclones and wet weather to come for the remainder of the wet season.

Mr Camp said it will bring a good grass-growing season for pastoralists.

"For us we hope that it continues into March and there are predictions it could run into April," he said.

"We have a lot of ground moisture, which will make the rest of the season a lot better than last."

In terms of live export, Mr Camp said pastoralists would benefit from having market options for those wanting heavier cattle, such as Vietnam.

Mr Camp hoped pastoralists across the Pilbara would receive more rainfall in the next few months to help the entire WA cattle industry.

"Rainfall in the inland east Pilbara has been healthy and rivers are rising in the far east, but around Port Hedland rainfall has been quite low and the totals are very small compared to the Kimberley," Mr Cook said.

"So more rainfall this season so far, but not by a great margin.

"It has really been pretty dry along the Pilbara coast.

"The bureau's rainfall outlooks suggest above average rainfall is most likely to the end of March at least for the Pilbara and western parts of the Kimberley."

Pilbara pastoralists Ann and Lang Coppin welcomed the rain, saying it was the best start they had seen in two years.

Ms Coppin said Yarrie station, north of Marble Bar had its first downpour on Christmas Day.

"We had 36mm on Christmas Day, which was our first rain for the season," she said.

"We didn't have any rain recorded in December apart from that.

"Since then, we have had a wet January."

Yarrie received another 37mm on January 9 and had received light showers since.

"We were fortunate to have those big falls early on and everything after that was a bonus," she said.

"Everything is green and the pastures are well on the way.

"There are some gaps because it was a bit patchy, but the feed is on its way."

Ms Coppin said the De Grey River that runs through the station is flowing again due to heavy rainfall in the East Pilbara region.

"It's not from our rainfall, as it's been a bit too patchy here - it's from rainfall more inland," Ms Coppin said.

"Overall it's been a better year for us.

"We had two bad years in a row - so we're just hoping it will keep going."

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