Catherine and Colin Dunne at their cattle and grain property near Duaringa.
Catherine and Colin Dunne at their cattle and grain property near Duaringa.

CQ farmers praying for La Niña to see crops, cattle thrive

A CENTRAL Queensland farmer said a La Niña wet season was welcomed after facing one of the worst droughts last year.

Colin and Catherine Dunne have had a pretty good year at their cattle and grain property, located about 20km north of Duaringa, after receiving some much needed rain early this year.

Mr Dunne said they had about 328ml in four weeks across January and February, following “one of the worst droughts we’ve ever experienced” in 2019.

Over the past six months the property received a further 84ml in about nine different falls.

“It’s quite dry but no where near as bad as last year,” Mr Dunne said.

“The cattle are all good, farming would’ve liked a bit more moisture but we’re still getting an average crop.”

He said they were currently in the process of harvesting about 1400ha of chickpeas and had been selling “plenty of fat cattle” through the pandemic.

“Even though it’s dry, the cattle are doing well.”

The family run enterprise also has several other properties across Central Queensland, run with the help of their two sons and two daughters.

Mr Dunne said he was fortunate to be surrounded by family and a good, strong workforce, but La Niña would make a world of difference to farmers across the region.

“We’re fortunate because we’re in an area with a little higher rainfall on the Rockhampton side of the Central Highlands,” he said.

“Once you get a bit further out west you need to have a big heart to be a farmer or grazier out there.”

The Bureau of Meteorology recently raised its El Nino-Southern Oscillation Outlook to La Niña alert status, meaning the chance of a La Niña occurring this year has increased to 70 per cent, roughly three times the normal likelihood.

The Bureau’s manager of Climate Operations, Dr Andrew Watkins, said La Niña typically resulted in above-average winter-spring rainfall for Australia, particularly across eastern, central and northern regions.

“It typically also brings cooler and cloudier days, more tropical cyclones, and an earlier onset of the first rains of the wet season across the north,” he said.

While the grain prices were good and cattle prices were strong, Duaringa’s Mr Dunne said a solid wet season would be a pleasant change.

“The seasons are what they are. We adjust to good times and bad times but we’re due for it so a good wet one would be good for a change,” he said.

“The cattle will do better, the crops will do better, and we will do better.”