Rains herald lush new year

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The Kimberley experienced a wet December.
Camera IconThe Kimberley experienced a wet December. Credit: Nige Melling

Kimberley pastoralists are ringing in the new year with a grin after “the best wet season in six years” delivered more than 600mm to some stations.

A tropical low moving over the Kimberley from the north east and ex-tropical cyclone Yvette from the west brought heavy rain to the region in December.

It’s a pleasing start to the year for Ruby Plains Station manager Mervyn Wortley, who said nearby cattle stations were bursting with greenery.

Mustering in the Kimberley usually begins in April and Ruby Plains expects to export between 500 to 2000 head from Broome or Wyndham this year.

“It’s got the grass going ... it makes it a lot easier because you’re not moving the cattle around as much and filling up water all the time,” Mr Wortley said.

One of the Kimberley’s most remote cattle outposts slushed through its wettest December in seven years after a whopping 604mm of rain.

Theda Station, off Kalumburu Road near Drysdale River National Park in WA’s far north, received about 407mm of rain in the week before Christmas.

Theda land manager Peter Adams said that downpour and other “smatterings of rain” meant Theda had “almost doubled” its anticipated rainfall for December.

It was he and his wife Alison’s first year at the isolated outpost after moving to the Kimberley from Queensland mid-2016.

“Our total was 604mm for December, which is very high compared to other years, last year 388mm and year before was only 131cm,” Mr Adams said.

“It’s our highest since 2009 as far as rainfall goes.”

Mr Adams said Theda would start mustering in July to let the “land dry out a bit”.

He said the landscape was “absolutely green” with good cattle feed.

“We are going to see how the season plays out, it’s a very small window here when they muster because it’s so far from export points,” Mr Adams said.

The remote station is only accessible to vehicles travelling along Kalumburu Road during the dry season or by plane.

Consolidated Pastoral Company is also expecting a good year at its cattle stations scattered throughout the Kimberley, Northern Territory and Queensland.

CPC chief executive Troy Settler said the company was “on track” to start the first muster at its Kimberley properties Carlton Hill and Argyle Downs in April.

“It’s been a great start to the wet season, a bit early to say whether (wet roads) will delay first round muster,” he said.

“We are hoping it will help the pastoralists recover after a few dry wet seasons. “We have had really good rain throughout the Kimberley and Victoria River Downs (in the Northern Territory). It’s good news.”

A wet January is also on the cards for the Kimberley with a high chance of rain almost continually forecast until the middle of the month.

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