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Australia - More than 1000 cattle to die in record Queensland floods

Farmers in Queensland’s north-west are helpless as their cattle, some bogged in waterlogged paddocks, starve to death by the hundreds.

More than 1000 livestock are expected to perish and the situation has become so desperate the military will drop fodder into isolated homesteads that have become islands in the wake of record rain.

The swollen Flinders River at the 20 Mile Reserve on Thursday morning.
The swollen Flinders River at the 20 Mile Reserve on Thursday morning.CREDIT:GRANT HICKMOTT – RICHMOND SHIRE COUNCIL

Rachael Anderson, at Eddington, west of Julia Creek in north-west Queensland, was one of the emotionally exhausted landholders who woke up to water surrounding her homestead.

She felt broken by the thought of how her stock was coping.

“Everything was fine until two days ago – we’d had a lovely amount of rain, we were really happy – but seven inches in one night on top of that has broken us,” she told.

“We are up over the 60-millimetre mark. I’ve stopped counting, I don’t want to know any more.”

She has seen cows struggling in the swollen Eastern Creek on their doorstep and expected to lose cows and calves at the very least.

“For us, the losses would be into the hundreds already, and the concerns are the same for most of us. We expect thousands will be lost across the district,” Ms Anderson said.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Australian Defence Force would use its aircraft to help graziers.

“Thousands of cattle are cut off by floodwaters and we had to act decisively to stop them from starving,” he said.

“I wrote to the Queensland Agriculture Minister yesterday letting him know the federal government was ready to assist in any way necessary.”

The view from Eddington Station, west of Julia Creek on Wednesday.
The view from Eddington Station, west of Julia Creek on Wednesday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk vowed on Thursday to visit the affected areas to see the devastation.

“We heard today first-hand from the mayors of Richmond, Flinders and Winton … they expressed to us the enormity of the situation out there, especially when there’s going to be cattle loss,” she said.

“I just want to reassure them that we’re listening. This is a big issue.

“We are going to see it and talk to people on the ground first-hand to see what more we can do. I think that’s the only way you can visually see it, talk to people, hear what’s happening, and then put in place plans to co-ordinate efforts of recovery.”

Bureau of Meteorology acting state manager Dr Richard Wardle said the extreme weather event in the central and north-western parts of the state was record-breaking.

“Our thoughts are with the farmers out west. We heard distressing stories this morning and that river at Richmond, the Flinders River, has exceeded the 1974 flood level,” he said.

“That river is still rising. That is going to mean that major flooding will continue for the next few days.”

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