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Western QLD – The Big Dry

Posted on July 8, 2014 · Posted in Longreach Regional Council

Western Qld is in its driest time since 2002 and as a consequence roads and services become very difficult for a Local Authority to deliver in an effective efficient manner.

During the dry, more stock move and the road conditions are at their worst. Lifts of anywhere from six decks (three double deck cattle crates) to 100 decks can be shifted in the matter of a couple of days. A road can go from a reasonable condition to bulldust in three days. The road is almost not able to be repaired until decent rain arrives as the travel distance for a reliable water source, can be a distance that makes it not viable and the very road you’re carting on is falling to pieces as you travel.

A lot of western shires actual only dry grade with their maintenance grading and during exceptional dry years even the resheeting gravel can be put down dry and hope that Huey comes along and gives it a drink.

Longreach is one of the few Local Authorities that has a waterhole as the primary water source for the village. This leads to tension within the community when the dry times come, so now, not only is it hot, dry, dusty, we’re unable to sustain a water needing garden.

But the country can change almost overnight, along with the black soil roads. The heavy clay black soil makes quite a good dry weather road but is treacherous during times of dry. So a road that is shining today, can be impassable tomorrow and will have deep wheel tracks until it is next graded. This creates the dilemma of responding after every storm or waiting until April May to give a decent heavy formation grade. Of course if a road is assessed as dangerous, we will touch up those areas that need it.

While the west has had some rain and decent falls in places, a majority of the country is still very dry with a number of graziers looking down the barrel of the start of their third year in extremely dry times. I have two siblings who have stations around Longreach and Winton and have been there for over thirty and forty years. Below are some photos of the country and ‘feeding out’ to stock.

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