But while it may look greener in some areas, what’s being termed the ‘green drought’ is far from over.
Some areas around the Central West, Riverina and coastal areas have benefited from good rainfall of more than 100mm in recent weeks bringing a green tinge to paddocks, but sub-soil moisture levels still remain at near-record lows.
“September rainfall was average to very much below average across most of NSW, but some rainfall has seen conditions improve in parts of coastal, eastern and central regions,” DPI climatologist Anthony Clark said.
“The falls bring short-term relief with substantially more rain needed to restore depleted soil moisture levels.
“We may be dealing with a false break,” Dr Clark said.
Farmers hoping the rain will be a game changer
For Canowindra canola grower, Oliver Wythes, his 2,000-hectare property in the Central West has received its second-lowest rainfall on record.
But falls of 20–30mm in recent weeks has given him hope.
“If we hadn’t had the rain and we get a couple of dry and hot weeks, we’d have been looking at just half of what we’re now going to be able to harvest,” he said.
Coastal areas of NSW in particular have benefited from good falls of rain in September and October with some areas already receiving more than their monthly average.
Dairy farmer Rob Miller, from Milton on the South Coast, was considering closing down his dairy, which had been in operation since 1859, until it rained.
“We’ve had 75mm in the past 10 days and it’s transformed the farm; we’ve got green grass for the first time in six months,” Mr Miller said.
Some regions pulled out of drought
Parts of the state’s North Coast have received enough rain to now be declared out of drought altogether.
A fortnight into October, the average rainfall for the month has been surpassed with heavy falls over the past week.
For Shirley Mitchell, who grows sugar cane on the banks of the Tweed River at Tumblegum 20km south-west of Tweed Heads, planting next season’s crop was well and truly on hold.
“I’m saying at least a fortnight before we can start planting, and only if it [the rain] breaks today,” she said from her property, which is bordered by the river.
Last October, the total rainfall for the area was 212mm.
In the second week of this October Ms Mitchell has recorded 153mm in the space of six days — with 40mm falling in the space of two hours.
Rainfall misses out some regions, drought conditions worsen in west
Not all areas have benefited from recent rainfall.
In western New South Wales, the upper Hunter and in the north-west of the state, intense drought conditions remain.
Areas around Cobar, Bourke, Walgett and Coonamble have largely missed out on falls.
Rodney Slack-Smith farms at Burren Junction, between Narrabri and Walgett, where rain has largely passed him by.
He received 12mm recently, which was the most significant fall on his property since 2016 and hearing about rain elsewhere has been depressing.
“It is hard, it plays on your mind a bit but it is good for the people down south,” Mr Slack-Smith said.
In the Hunter Valley it’s a story of both celebration and despair.
Lower Hunter farmers have received the highest rainfall in more than 12 months, with some areas recording more than 100mm over several weeks but Upper Hunter farmers have had no such luck.
Alan Hardes is a farmer and stock carrier in Muswellbrook and has seen the worst-affected areas. He said the land was showing no sign of recovering despite rainfall recordings of up to 20mm.
“Some of the pastures will need re-sowing after such a long period without rain” he said.
Source: ABC News @ 2018-10