Little hands with big hearts rejoice with rain

State-wide snapshot of rain impacts

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The image of little Cate Harris' smiling face out of the ute window resonated across the state showing the plight of farmers in the unrelenting dry.

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The image of little Cate Harris' smiling face hanging out of the ute window resonated across the state showing the resilience of farmers in this unrelenting dry.

While the dry conditions are far from over with 92 per cent of the state still in drought, there has been some reprieve with summer rain.

At Harts Horn Station, 75 kilometres south of Ivanhoe, all Cate and her sister Annabelle wanted to for Christmas was rain when they appeared in The Land's tribute to our bush kids 'Little Hands Big Hearts'.

Related reading:Rain is what our bush kids want for Christmas

The cover of The Land where Cate Harris appeared on December 26, 2019.

The cover of The Land where Cate Harris appeared on December 26, 2019.

Back then only 50mm had fallen on their semi-arid landscape and it wasn't long before they had to dig into their coffers to pay for fodder to hand feed again.

But now 125mm of rain has fallen on the station this year and the girl's mother Kathleen Harris says "it's looking the best it has in at least four years, which is a huge relief".

Mrs Harris said her children, like many country kids, understood what no rain meant and how reliant their 26,305 hectare station was on the weather.

The first reprieve came on January 15 with 25mm of rain and then it was followed up with the same amount fell in February.

But there wasn't enough for them to stop hand feeding their animals so they purchased another load and were about to feed again when the "best kind of rain" fell on March 5.

They tipped out 77mm out of the rain gauge - the largest single rain event they had received in years.

"The kids ran outside and said 'woohoo it's raining', they were certainly very happy as we had a big dust storm just before that rain," Mrs Harris said.

"They knew there was going to be sheep feed, that's the first thing they said 'look at all the sheep feed, all the babies are going to have food'.

"Then they went and looked for puddles but it soaked into the ground so quickly. It has given us hope and stability for the rest of the year.

"The drought is not over and a lot of areas didn't get rain or got little at all, so it still brings home that it's not over and it will take a long time to recover."

But in the meantime Cate and Annabelle are happy to see the green .

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said while rainfall had been patchy this year, it was definitely morale boosting to hear that some farmers in parts of the state's north west were looking at what could be their first decent crop in years.

"With farmers across the state dealing with the devastating impacts of drought and bushfires, in times like this it's important to savour some of the few good news stories we're hearing, especially in places like Bourke, where locals have been doing it tough for so long," Mr Marshall said.

"But for every farmer who has seen some good rain at their place, there are plenty more who are still battling dire conditions.

"We will get through this drought, we're just going to need a lot more widespread rain before it breaks."

Related reading:Only 4.6 per cent of NSW not in drought

A state-wide snapshot

  • The Sydney basin and isolated parts in the state's east and north west are in the early stage of recovery. The improvement in conditions is variable across the remainder of the state and currently remain in drought.
  • Some drought affected areas are experiencing a green growth response, however follow-up rain is still needed to increase the chance of drought recovery.
  • A good example is the region around Bourke. With some high rainfall in the first three months of the year conditions have improved and their current 12 month rainfall is sitting above 30 percent of its long term range: pasture is responding to the rainfall which is seen in available satellite information and local field reports. But the soil moisture indicator for the region is still sitting at only 20 percent of its long term range, so there is some vulnerability in the system. Without follow up rain in the coming season there is possibility that the region could go back into drought.
  • Autumn feed growth continues but is variable. Pasture growth responses are generally better in the east while other areas would benefit from follow-up rain.
  • The rainfall during 2020 has increased soil moisture levels in cropping regions and improved the winter crop outlook for the first part of the season.
  • The Combined Drought Indicator (CDI) shows 92 per cent of NSW is in drought (as of March 24).
  • Despite some recent rainfall across the state, western and southern NSW have remained drier with the rainfall more variable.
  • The global climate drivers remain neutral and the official climate outlook indicates a near equal chance of median autumn rain.
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