Rain has delivered a lifeline to badly drought-affected areas of south-eastern NSW, filling empty dams on the Far South Coast and Monaro.
The rain has set up Bega dairyfarmers for irrigation water supply and good pasture growth until at least autumn next year, with the two major irrigation dams filled, due to an intense east coast low that sent rain right into southern tablelands areas.
The weather system started on Friday with a trough over the state bringing falls to many parts of the state, especially on the Central-West Slopes, South-West Slopes and in the Hunter. Even the thoroughbred breeding paddocks around Scone, so long in drought, were awash.
(Scone residents were told on Tuesday to boil water for drinking and food preparation after heavy rainfall in the Glenbawn Dam catchment caused major issues with water treatment.)
Phenomenal rain totals were recorded along the coast including 244mm at Nowra on the South Coast and 169mm on the North Coast at Evans Head.
The main places to miss out were in the Western Division, although Cobar picked up 17mm, the Riverina and the North-West Plains.
Struggling farmers on the Monaro and the Far South Coast could not be happier as the rain followed good falls only two weeks ago. (Cooma had another 53mm in this last week.)
A huge destocking and agistment program was instituted by many Monaro livestock owners with their paddocks almost bare after they missed a rain event in February and had little follow up rain since March. But the July rain has bolstered hopes of pasture growth for when the weather warms up in spring.
Bega Agricultural Services agronomist Peter Abramowski said the rain was a gamechanger for many dairyfarmers struggling through a terrible drought since the last major falls in March and with high feed costs. Mr Abramowski said there would be enough soil moisture to help pastures kick off in early spring, a phenomena not seen for ages.
Those that had sown crops were seeing their ryegrass take off. Irrigation water would last well into summer and early autumn, giving farmers a massive reprieve from high feed costs. Bega received 120mm in the latest downpour, on top of nearly 100mm earlier in the month.
"The rain has filled up all the two major irrigation dams and that means farmers can keep growing feed until I'd say at least next autumn. It is awesome rain, and with September normally a dry month, the soil moisture has set us up for good growth. It will give things a tremendous kick."
The dairy industry was losing a number of farmers due to the drought but the rain would help turn things around, especially with milk prices improving.
Other top falls in the state in the week up to July 29 included:
Northern Rivers: Evans Head 169mm, Ballina 165mm, Murwillumbah 141.
Mid-North Coast: Dorrigo 57m, Taree 77mm.
Hunter: Cessnock 88mm, Scone 73mm, Merriwa 44mm.
Northern Tablelands: Armidale 33mm, Guyra 41mm.
Central Tablelands: Bathurst 43mm, Orange 45mm, Lithgow 90mm.
South Coast: Bega 120mm, Moruya 222mm, Nowra 244mm.
Southern Tablelands: Cooma 53mm, Bombala 66mm, Crookwell 52mm, Taralga 64mm.
North-West Slopes: Gunnedah 20mm, Tamworth 27mm
North-West Plains: Walgett 23mm.
Central-West Slopes: Cowra 83mm, Condobolin 28mm, Peak Hill 38mm, Trangie 36mm.
South-West Slopes: Young 49mm, Grenfell 51mm.