UPDATED MONDAY, 11AM:
They were on the cusp on Level Five water restrictions, but then it rained and rained and rained and now for the first time in 430 days water is flowing over the weir at Bourke after a fall of 90mm.
Good rain in many parts of western NSW has brought hope to farmers hoping for some summer pasture growth. For some it will mean a year's supply of water in dams, and others it will mean they can dodge hefty fodder bills if they can get some lucerne or millet away.
The rain wasn't strong everywhere and there are many hard luck stories only between neighbours just kilometres away - some who got some and others who didn't. But generally the rain event lived up to expectations.
For Bourke it could mean a mammoth change to its struggling economy and may help the owners of the new abattoir re-open its doors for the first time in many months. No doubt the pasture growth will lead to a new build up in goat numbers in the rangelands eventually.
Bourke mayor Barry Hollman said the rain was wonderful for the town. "We were only a week away from Level Five restrictions so this is a big boost to the town," he said. "We'll' have a look at the Level this week, and definitely change it. It's good news right around here and will definitely make things better and give people the chance to see some summer pastures."
He was unsure how widespread the rain was in the district. The water flowing down the Darling though would be a comfort for farmers along the river wanting to water stock.
Bourke had recorded an incredible 94mm as the big rain event lived up to predictions in many areas of the state. There were reports of localised falls of 100mm or more near Bourke.
Gumbooka (less than one hour drive to the northeast of Bourke) was not too far behind with about 80mm.
One station near White Cliffs recorded close to 80mm. There was solid rain in many Far West areas and outstations. One farmer, Shelby-Rae Mannion, said: "We had 31mm on Saturday with hail in about 15 minutes! And 43mm on Sunday, very heavy rain."
There was good rain in the Riverina and South-West Slopes with Wagga Wagga recording 45mm since Saturday. Griffith had reached 36mm by 5pm Sunday and Narrandera 40mm.
(Click on rain symbol above on map to see totals)
Rain extended into the Southern Tablelands and Central-West late on Sunday.
Cobar has had 45mm, Coonamble 15mm, West Wyalong 22mm, Temora 11mm by 5pm Sunday.
Senior vice-president of the Pastoralists' Association of West Darling Lachlan Gall (who received over 13mm in some parts of his place) said :"It turns out that the rain here was a very narrow strip through the place. Better than nothing though. The heavier rain will potentially be a game changer for those lucky enough to receive a decent fall, filling dams that will last two years or more and giving feed an excellent start."
Another 20mm would set them up for a great summer of feed, he said.
Narrandera Elders agronomist Ross Shaw said the rain fell on ground that virtually had no soil moisture. It came too late for crops in the ground but gave the option for summer crops of lucerne and millet in the area. "We wish it had come a bit earlier, but we'll take it,'' he said.
Weatherzone's Ben Domensino said it was the best rain in more than six months in western NSW on the weekend.
"A low pressure trough interacting with a mass of moisture-laden air produced rain and thunderstorms across a large swath of western NSW on Saturday and Sunday," he said.
"This system delivered the most widespread rain in around six months, although some places had their best drop in several years on the weekend.
"Bourke Airport's 95mm of rain during the 48 hours to 9am on Monday was their best two-day total since 2012. Further west, White Cliffs received 27mm during the 24 hours to 9am on Monday, their highest daily total in two years.
"The best rain for many parts of western NSW fell during the 24 hours to 9am on Monday. Walgett's 50mm in this time was their heaviest fall in one and a half years, while Coonamble (44mm), Cobar (24mm), Wilcannia (26mm), Cowra (15mm), Scone (24mm) and Dubbo (13mm) all had their best daily rain in 6-8 months.
"Showers and thunderstorms will continue to affect parts of NSW on Monday and Tuesday as an upper-level trough passes over southeastern Australia. However, falls from this system won't be as heavy or widespread as the weekend's rain."
Meanwhile at Lake Cargellico:
But he said it was a long way to go to make up for long-running rainfall deficits. "As of 9am on Sunday, some parts of NSW were running more than 400mm behind their long-term average rainfall totals for the year-to-date. It's likely it will take more than one rain-bearing system to make up for these deficits."
- original published 5pm Sunday