Australia - Inland Queensland farmers spared major damage from Cyclone Kirrily but some miss out on rain

26.01.2024 160 views

There were fears it would bring damaging winds and heavy rainfall but graziers in north-west Queensland say the impact of ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily has, so far, been minimal.

Towns like Charters Towers, Hughenden and Richmond were expected to be in the firing line, but this morning woke to gentle rain and no wind.

At Virginia Park, north-east of Charters Towers, grazier Ben Bennetto was prepared for an intense weather event.

"Everything you heard was all pointing to the fact that we were looking at a pretty severe event," Mr Bennetto said.

"Plenty of wind and a fair amount of rain, but none of that eventuated.

"We fortunately still ended up with just under 30 millimetres of rain but it was certainly nothing like the expectation leading up to it had been."

At Ingham, north of Townsville, sugar cane farmer Lawrence Di Bella said he had tipped 145mm out of the rain gauge overnight.

He said while it was too early to count losses, his farm had fared well and most of the cane knocked over by the wind would right itself in coming days.

"Luckily they're not tipped out of the ground at the moment, the stools are still there," he said.

"The bigger crops are the ones that are the most impacted.

"I was expecting to see a lot of broken cane and we haven't seen that."

Mr Di Bella said soil moisture left over from ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper rainfall had put his crop in good stead ahead of this weather event.

"If we get a cyclone and the ground is dry it actually tends to snap the stalks," he said.

"Whereas when it is wet the cane actually tends to lie down."

Graziers 'still looking skyward'

Graziers south of Hughenden missed out on the rain originally forecast for the region.

Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara said the region had plenty of time to prepare.

"At the moment we're getting nice, general rain and very little wind," Cr McNamara said.

"I think we're getting the best of it in Hughenden and have had over 40mm overnight and this morning.

"We're ready, so it's ok. All our preparations are in place ... at the moment, fingers crossed, we're just getting the good benefits from the cyclone."

The town had received up to 40mm by 9am on Friday, but Cr McNamara, who is also a grazier, said locals had been expecting more.

"Unfortunately south of Hughenden there's been very little rain, so the graziers down there will still be looking skyward," she said.

"We've had some dams that haven't been full in three years so we were thinking that Kirrily might do that for us, but I don't think it's going to."

'Happy to see more'

Further north, similar totals were measured at Gilberton Station near Einasleigh.

Grazier Lyn French said while the country was already looking good, she would be happy to see more rain.

"It has been nice steady rain, nothing threatening, and it is still drizzling at the moment," she said.

She had the property had already had more than 200mm of rain this wet season.

"The country is looking lovely, most of the dams are full, the cows are happy and we are happy but we won't ever complain about rain," she said.

"We have had too many dry times to complain about that."

Hoping for some sun

On the southern edge of the Atherton Tablelands, Monica Moore measured 195mm of rain at her place in Mt Garnet, taking her total for the month of January to 589mm.

She said most people in her area had measured between 180mm and 215mm from ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily.

"At the moment I am standing ankle-deep in a pool of water at the bottom of our block, our driveway has a 6-inch washout through it and the animals all have running water through their pens — the chooks and the pigs," she said.

"I haven't heard of any damage other than washouts and flooding so we were pretty lucky in that aspect, but we were a long way from it.

 "The rain is nice and welcome, but we have had enough for a while … with two wet months [including] 254mm in December.

"We just want to dry out a bit and get things done.

"I know there are a lot of farmers that need to get to their paddocks. I know there is corn sitting in the fields that needs to be harvested that can't be accessed."

Could have been worse

Further south, near Proserpine, grazier and ex-cane farmer Bill Camm remembers the destruction cyclones Ada and Debbie caused in 1970 and 2017 respectively.

He was thankful Kirrily was not as bad.

"We're relieved … cyclones can be very damaging," Mr Camm said.

"I went through Ada and Debbie so I realise what their capacity is and it's good when they come in like this one.

"It hasn't done a lot of structural damage ... it's given us enough rain and very little wind so I'm very happy about that."

Source -


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