Joyful Joyce delivers downpours

Cally Dupe and Jakeb WaddellThe West Australian
Thomas Fox paddles across a flooded Yarrie Station.
Camera IconThomas Fox paddles across a flooded Yarrie Station. Credit: Annabelle Coppin

Green cattle feed has sprung to life in the hot, humid conditions of the State’s north after the remnants of cyclone Joyce delivered welcome rains.

It was a wet start to the year for the bulk of the Kimberley and Pilbara’s pastoralists, with many stations soaked after their first rains for the year.

Rain also fell across the Southern Gascoyne this week, delivering a hearty 63mm at Meka Station, 57mm at Wooleen Station and 31mm at Nighan Station.

The mighty Gascoyne River also flooded this week — the first time since 2015 — and was charging towards hopeful growers in Carnarvon on Tuesday.

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In the southern Pilbara, Joyce handed Cheela Plains Station its first rain since March, boosting feed after a late start to the wet season.

Station manager Robin Pensini said more than 50mm of rain had fallen in the past week.

“It is excellent, really good, because things were starting to look a bit dry, as it does when you haven’t had rain for 10 months,” she said. “We had some country locked up that hadn’t been grazed but we had no fresh feed. There’s nothing better than fresh feed.

“The sun has just come out. We will this week start looking around the place to see the grass.”

The March to December dry spell was also broken at Warrawaggine Station, in the East Pilbara, where general managers Lux and Belinda Lethbridge were soaking it in this week.

“We have had 200mm for the whole of January ... it’s remarkable,” Mr Lethbridge said.

“Every dam, gully and creek has water in it. It’s very rare you get the same rain across all pockets of the property, but we have.

“This will get the cattle through until February and March. If we can get an extended wet season, we would be really happy.”

Rivers are flowing at Warrawagine Station in the Pilbara.
Camera IconRivers are flowing at Warrawagine Station in the Pilbara. Credit: Belinda Lethbridge

December rainfall was below average in parts of WA, mostly in the south-eastern Pilbara and the Goldfields district.

However, December rainfall was average along the west coast and along the path of the wet season’s first tropical cyclone Hilda, extending from the western Kimberley through to the north-eastern side of the interior district to Wiluna.

East of Port Hedland, Yarrie Station manager Annabelle Coppin said grass had sprung to life across the 250,000ha property after 140mm of rain.

“The best thing about this country is when it rains, you can almost see the grass growing very quickly,” she said.

“It just transforms. Within a week, this place will be green, with feed for the cattle. A week ago, it was dry and hot with easterly winds.”

Hilda produced daily rainfall totals of 100-300mm in the West Kimberley from December 27-29, breaking December daily rainfall records at a number of sites.

Country Downs Station, in the Kimberley, experienced its wettest December ever, with 446mm of rain, breaking the 398mm record set in 1970.

Kilto Station, also in the Kimberley, recorded its highest December daily rainfall with 201mm on December 28, smashing the previous record of 116mm.

The flooded dam at Warrawagine Station.
Camera IconThe flooded dam at Warrawagine Station. Credit: Belinda Lethbridge
The flooded Rafferties Dam at Waggawagine Station in the Pilbara.
Camera IconThe flooded Rafferties Dam at Waggawagine Station in the Pilbara. Credit: Belinda Lethbridge

Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association vice-president and Anna Plains Station manager David Stoate said pastoralists were revelling in the rainfall.

“The two cyclones gave the West Kimberley a really good soaking,” he said.

“It has set the Kimberley up for a good wet season and it won’t take much more to keep the grass growing and the cattle happy.”

Some pastoral areas have missed out on the rain, with Challa Station, near Mt Magnet, recording just 3mm of rain by Monday and Yaringa Station, near Carnarvon, just 1mm.

Ms Coppin said she felt for the cattle producers who had not received rainfall.

“It can be so hit and miss,” she said.

“We always feel for the people who missed out.

“The whole of the Pilbara didn’t get a drink but you really have to soak it up when it’s your turn.”

The flooded Anna Plains Station.
Camera IconThe flooded Anna Plains Station. Credit: David Stoate

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