Prepare for the worst: Farmers share brutal drought truths
BRUCE Alexander and his wife Lisa have learned not to get too carried away with 'green grass fever'.
"You think the season has broken and it's going to come good, so you pile the stock on then it stops raining," Bruce said.
"It's been pretty ordinary for the past 18 years - hit and miss - we're not getting long enough consistent runs to get ahead."
They have lived on their 9300ha property, 90km south-west of Blackall in Central Queensland for 21 years and out there, drought is nothing new.
They're down to 5000 sheep and with 2000 ewes about to lamb ahead of the predicted El Nino later this year, Bruce knows careful monitoring is key.
The El Nino will only add to the already too long dry spell - taking further toll on feed and water supply.
"There's a lot of people worse off than us, but it's hard," Lisa said.
"We're still running a fair percentage of stock but we haven't had any rain that runs water, so the dam's empty.
"People are just hanging on by the skin of their teeth."
Like so many of her neighbours, Lisa gave up listening to weather forecasts a long time ago.
She says there's too much false hope and people are more tuned to the land and to nature to give an accurate prediction.
"I don't think they understand the impact it has on people's mental health when there's rain forecast and it never happens," she said.
"We've learned from the past so you prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
Lisa has used her skills as a photographer to do what she can to help boost morale in an area that desperately needs some.
Along with a friend, she started an project on Instagram called 'Better in Blackall'.
"People contribute photos of where they live and what they like and we print them in various sizes and fill the empty shop windows with them," she said.
"The community response was great. I think it's put an extra bounce in their step and the tourists thought it was fabulous.
"Then with funding from the council, we interviewed 40 people and I took their portrait photos.
"The renovated Bushman's Hotel has been closed for 20 years so we used it to display the portraits and used interactive iPads to share their memories; what they love about here and about growing up."
She says the projects had instilled a bit more pride in the community and helped people realise there was more out there than they thought.
"We've suffered a lot, not just the drought but from wild dogs too."
Back on the land, Bruce keeps a close eye on the paddocks, the feed and the livestock.
He knows he needs backup water systems in place to manage the surface and sub-artesian water.
"I've been trying to connect water sources with a pipeline," he said.
"There's so many improvements you could make, but if we did them all we'd never have any money at all or have anything to put it away for bad times.
"So it's priorities."