From fire to flood, firefighter back to grazier in one weekend

Monaro soaking ends months of fire threats and gives hope

News
Same place, few weekends apart. Fires surrounded Countegany area again a few weeks ago and now it's enjoyed a 200mm drop!

Same place, few weekends apart. Fires surrounded Countegany area again a few weeks ago and now it's enjoyed a 200mm drop!

Aa

'Hopefully we can get back to some normality'

Aa

For two months grazier and shearer Nathan Boate has been beset by fires from the east, north and west on his property on the Monaro.

The smoke and the fires seemed never ending on Wondalee where he runs 200 Merino ewes carrying first cross lambs.

He's been fighting fires with the Jerangle Rural Fire Service for months - from the Big Badja fire to fires north and west, helping protect many homes and properties, wondering if life would ever return to normal, even though normal at the time was dealing with a withering drought. Fire had burnt all around Wondalee.

Wondalee Merino ewes surrounded by the 'lake' after Monaro downpour. Photo by Nathan Boate.

Wondalee Merino ewes surrounded by the 'lake' after Monaro downpour. Photo by Nathan Boate.

Then on Monday things went crazy again. But not fire this time. On paddocks where his Merinos had been fed for years, and having resisted the temptation to destock, the rain started pelting down on Sunday night. The sheep seemed lost, standing in paddocks almost afraid to move, suddenly surrounded by water, not thinly covered ground.

It kept falling and falling in great soaking amounts and by the end of Monday his gauge at Countegany had tipped over the 200mm mark.

The rain's been a huge turnaround for him and all graziers across the drought-hit Monaro who have also been under fire threat since late last year.

Only the week before the rain, fires raced through nearby grazing areas at Bredbo, destroying 12 homes and many outbuildings. The Orroral fire was turning into a "monster spotting event" setting off Clear Range, and it seemed fires were set to crash through most parts of the district. Jerangle locals also had to confront the tragic crash of a waterbomber that had killed all three US personnel during the fire fight.

Within 24 hours, the whole scene has changed from one of despair to one of hope with at least 30mm falling throughout the Monaro with many readings hitting 60-70mm and 120mm, and up to Mr Boate's 200mm.

Fertiliser has been "running out the door" at Nutrien's headquarters in Cooma, and many farmers are busy getting ready to plant cereal grazing crops or oats.

Mr Boate hopes this rain will get away the ryegrass on Wondalee, and help his life return to some normality.

Mr Boate bought Wondalee from the Litchfields a few years ago, but it's been in drought ever since. Now finally he might get a chance to have a good run at it.

"I've been fighting fires since December 28 until this weekend," he said. "Then it started raining most of the weekend into Monday. It's a good start as long as we can get some follow-up. It'll give stock water for another year and the ryegrass will get away. Hopefully soon we'll get a bit of normality."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by