100mm in 24hrs - Bremer Bay’s big drink a big win for farmers

Shannon VerhagenCountryman
Paul Reddington and his daughter Mikayla, 7, give the thumbs up for 100ml of rain in Bremer Bay.
Camera IconPaul Reddington and his daughter Mikayla, 7, give the thumbs up for 100ml of rain in Bremer Bay. Credit: Alice Reddington

For the first time in years, the dams on Alice and Paul Reddington’s Bremer Bay farm are full to the brim, after a recent heavy downfall provided much-needed relief.

When a low-pressure system developed over the South West at the start of the month, predictions of heavy rainfall and a severe weather warning accompanied it.

But the second-generation farmers never could have anticipated just how much would fall — with 100mm dumped on the mixed cattle and sheep farm in just 24 hours on August 3.

It’s the first time our tanks and dams have filled since we moved on to the property in 2017.

Alice Reddington

“We actually weren’t home on the Monday when it fell, we were out for the day. But as we drove home it rained the whole way from Albany to Bremer Bay.

“We basically got the whole 100mm in 24 hours, and by Tuesday all our dams were full or close to it.

“It was a very fun sight to wake up to the next day.” The couple run 2500 ewes with lambs and 350 beef cattle on 2000ha, across their Bremer Bay property and Ken and Jan Reddington’s — Mr Reddington’s parents — farm in nearby Gairdner, which had about 94mm.

Bremer Bay farmer Paul Reddington and his daughters Matilda, 12, Annabelle, 9, and Mikayla, 7, celebrating the rain.
Camera IconBremer Bay farmer Paul Reddington and his daughters Matilda, 12, Annabelle, 9, and Mikayla, 7, celebrating the rain. Credit: Alice Reddington

Off the back of three dry seasons — getting little more than 400mm in 2018 and 2019 — it was a sight worth celebrating.

The next morning, the couple headed out with their daughters Matilda, 12, Annabelle, 9, and Mikayla, 7, to splash in the puddles.

“The girls have probably never seen that much rain out here before,” Mrs Reddington said.mjj

“So we took them out the next day.”

Their once-dry property 7km north-west of the coastal holiday hotspot had transformed overnight into a network of streams and rivers flowing into the dams, which had been crying out for a drink.

They were not alone in their celebrations, with the storm dumping 81mm on Wellstead, 77mm on Albany, 72mm on Kojaneerup South, and 73mm on Munglinup, and delivering 40mm-50mm to several other farming communities.

Mrs Reddington said the wet weather had come as a “huge relief” to the family of five, who moved into a house they built on the property in 2017 after running it while living in Bremer Bay for several years.

“The biggest thing is that our dams are full,” she said.

“It just takes the pressure off.”

Annabelle Reddington, 9, and her sisters Matilda, 12 and Mikayla, 7, celebrating the 100ml of rain.
Camera IconAnnabelle Reddington, 9, and her sisters Matilda, 12 and Mikayla, 7, celebrating the 100ml of rain. Credit: Alice Reddington

After dry conditions forced them to gradually move their cattle to properties in Albany, the downpour came in the nick of time.

The last of their cattle were moved earlier this year.

“It had just come to the point where we were going to have to think about farming a little bit differently,” Mrs Reddington said.

We had to move all our cattle off to an agistment property further away from Bremer Bay due to the lack of water and food.

Alice Reddington

“We’ve had to do that for the last few years but now we don’t have any cows on our property, and that’s never happened before.”

She said she hoped the downpour, together with more recent rains, would stimulate enough feed to grow for them to bring some of the cattle back on to the property.

“We had another 20mm last week and we have nearly had as much rain in August than the entire year put together,” Mrs Reddington said. “It is a big relief to have water in our dams, and rainwater tanks full.”

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