The ‘long pad­dock’ is closed

Shepparton News - Country News - - LIVESTOCK -

Queens­land’s his­toric stock routes have been closed to gra­ziers for the first time in liv­ing mem­ory as se­vere drought con­di­tions con­tinue.

The state gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates 58.1 per cent of Queens­land re­mains drought de­clared, up from 57 per cent in July.

There is no re­lief in sight, with rain­fall from Cy­clone Owen to by­pass the south-west.

Con­di­tions are so dire, the cen­tury-old trav­el­ling stock routes known as the ‘long pad­dock’ will be closed be­cause there just isn’t enough feed there.

They are mainly used for mov­ing stock, pas­ture for emer­gency ag­ist­ment and long-term graz­ing when farm­ers run out of food for the an­i­mals.

The his­toric net­work of re­serves for trav­el­ling sheep and cat­tle is also a refuge for en­dan­gered flora and fauna, and are rich in indige­nous her­itage.

There are more than 76 000 km of tracks in Queens­land alone.

Last week, Mur­weh Shire Coun­cil, 800 km west of Bris­bane and span­ning 40 774 sq km, has stopped is­su­ing trav­el­ling per­mits and will only al­low graz­ing per­mits on a case-by-case ba­sis.

Mur­weh Shire is named af­ter a pas­toral run in the area in the 1860s, which iron­i­cally was thought to be an Abo­rig­i­nal word for water­hole.

The coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­men­tal and health ser­vices di­rec­tor Richard Ran­son said the shire had been in drought for more than seven years.

‘‘We have had to stop is­su­ing trav­el­ling per­mits be­cause ba­si­cally there’s hardly any feed there,’’ Mr Ran­son said.

‘‘If we kept is­su­ing per­mits, the stock would end up caus­ing dam­age and if we do get rain, it will take the routes longer to re­cover.’’

Mr Ran­son said there had been the odd thun­der­storm, but it was not enough.

While drought re­lief funds were avail­able for strug­gling farm­ers, the farm­ers des­per­ately needed rain, he said.

The coun­cil is un­sure when the routes will re­open.

Kevin ‘Blue’ Bred­hauer, a gra­zier who lives 100 km south of Charleville, has been on the land all his life and has never seen a more se­vere drought.

‘‘Noth­ing as wide­spread as this. It’s stuffed,’’ Mr Bred­hauer said.

But the third gen­er­a­tion gra­zier is con­vinced rain is on its way.

‘‘It’s com­ing. I reckon in the next month. You can tell by what’s hap­pen­ing in the bush — never mind the fore­cast­ers.

‘‘We need at least five or six inches to bring back the black.’’

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