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Ann Britton Outback Photography

Marginal Channel Country

Marginal Country……that’s what we live in, meaning, in part, rain is marginal…… we live in a 8-9 inch (200-225mm) rainfall country, so we don’t ask for much. You look after the land out here when it dries off, wait for the rain, and the land will respond, green, seeding grasses that dry off, but still full of goodness.
But then throw in the heat of summer, the heat of the wind in summer……. you may have looked after the land, waiting for rain, but good old Mother Nature throws (giggles while doing so I reckon) in elements that you have no control over. The endless heat of summer has to be endured by all, even the soil. The ground cover that you left can be burnt off by the heat and blown away by the wind.
Why live out here then, I hear you ask……. even when it is dry there is amazing beauty …….. and then it rains.
We live in amongst a complex system of channels, waterways, creeks, rivers that eventually end up in Lake Eyre….

……see the Burke River, at the top, north, in the middle….the town of Boulia was established to the west of the Burke and we live to the east of it…..I am hoping in the near future to explain our complex little part of this amazing system. It is much more than just a line that marks the Burke on this map, but this map does give the reality of the catchment area of the Lake Eyre basin, it is massive.
I would like to give credit to Kmusser for this map I found on Wikipedia page of Lake Eyre.

We have a wet season and a dry season, not so much the traditional four seasons, but I am pleased for the deciduous trees planted in our house yard, that give that hint of changing seasons, even if they get confused sometimes.
We rarely get winter rain, well we don’t rely or manage our beef business around winter rain, so summer rain it is, a span of about 4-5 months to get our quota of precious life giving natural h20 from dear Old Hughie, Saint of Rain. If all the stars align or more likely Mother Nature deems us fit to receive some rain, our ideal pattern for receiving rain would be…. early storms in November that build over time into monsoonal rain during the next 3-4, following months. Simple really, you would think Mother Nature could give that memo to Hughie….. but it would seem she likes to build character in the flora, fauna and humans that chose to live out here.
We manage our business knowing that sometimes it forgets to rain, as much as we hope, will it, pray, put the washing out, wash the car…… it sometimes just doesn’t happen.
The rule of thumb is….one is ten years could be magnificent, 3 probably good and the other 6 fair to poor.
To give you an idea of the difference in rainfall within the Lake Eyre Basin…… Longreach, 542km east of Boulia on the Thomson River, has an annual rainfall of around 17 inches (425mm) and it is nearly guaranteed annually. Their soil and environment is use to this amount of water, so when they miss out on their quota, even for one year, let alone a few years, it is a bit of a different scenario to our situation.

We can manage our land, lightening off cattle if need be. We have each other and others to support us during dry times, which we are truly grateful for. It is when I am driving into my gallery in town, driving around the paddocks, driving to our next town, when you see the native trees and vegetation as dry as they are and I often say to them (yes crazy Outback Sheila) “hang in there, rain is coming” We can be torpid in our air conditioned houses during the above 40 degrees celsius (104 Fahrenheit) days, and not so cooler nights that seem to roll into each other for weeks.
“The Good Old Days” of wood stoves that needed to go all year round, in the kitchen which is in our case is in the middle of the house, are thankfully history. The days of no air con, gas fridges and freezers, and before that charcoal coolers and no freezers at all. I am very thankful to say I like hearing about them and only, partly, lived them for my eight years at Lucknow.

Anyhow the reason for writing this blog….. was to explain our rainfall of late, mainly because I have amazing followers on my photography Social Media pages that are genuinely interested and I am very thankful for that.

Let’s step back a year or two even, 2016 we received 1792 points or 17 inches 92 points (448mm) and we recorded rain in every month bar two, so that puts what I wrote above all out of whack, you could say it was one of those magnificent (and very different) years. Then there was 2017….. January 276 pts (69mm) in seven falls from 1st to 22nd….. then throw in a very hot February with no follow up rain…… then July rolls around and on the 10th we received 48pts (12mm) …… & that was that for recording rainfall for 2017.
I think I may have put a jumper on once in Boulia during 2017 and for me being a cold frog, that is saying something, and considering we are on the edge of the desert, we can get cold winters.
Summer just gone was again another very hot one.
So you can understand that the country is wanting some rain.
On the 1 March (yes we are into the third month of 2018) we received 5mm or 20pts, that is the first recorded rain since the 10 July 2017. On the 3rd we received 17mm or 68pts on the 4th we recorded 1mm or 4pts. I’m pretty sure these three falls weren’t shared very far at all. On the 7th, 8th and 9th we received 21mm or 84pts. So a total of 44mm or 176pts for this month/year.
But…..what did happen was, 150km away towards the north and north east,  there was some amazing falls recorded from the beginning of March, over 100mm and in some places over 350mm. Falling at the head of the Burke system and the Hamilton River.(check map above)
So we are extremely blessed and grateful to have water in our creeks and channels. Goodwood benefits from the Burke system but Mudgeacca (where Claire, our daughter, and her partner Ryan, manage and live) benefits not only the Burke system but also the Hamilton. Plus when the 5 mile and 9 mile channels (part of the Burke water system) get to Mudgeacca after going through Goodwood (and other paddocks) as channels, they flood out. So considering Mudgeacca, which is 12km south from Goodwood, has received about half our Goodwood rainfall for March, a great deal of Mudgeacca will flood, this will be our saving grace.
When I say “our” saving Grace, I mean the country, the animals, native and domestic, the soil, the environment, our business, our souls.
Those trees looking so dry, tired, sad along the banks of our water system will be sucking up that life giving moisture via their roots and feeling very revived. The stubbles of grasses on the banks of the creeks and across the flood plans will do the same, and all the marvellous science of rejuvenation and survival, that can’t be seen by the naked eye will be busily happening, magically, a green, seeding carpet of native plants will be seen within days/weeks. The leaves on the trees will be glossy and the trees themselves will do all they can to regain to their healthy selves to prepare for the next dry spell.
The cows and native animals, will enjoy a feed (natural grasses), a drink (surface water) and a shady tree (gidgee or gum) within a short proximity.

I’m going to share a few videos taken during March, to show comparisons of country, dry and wet. Some flooding water systems and clouds.
I used YouTube to create these videos as it will be best quality.
These videos are all over the shop as well, in no order as far as dates so I hope they aren’t too confusing.

Goodwood is the first property on the Coorabulka Road, which is about 5 km to the east of Boulia and it runs south. Where I stood to take this video is council land. (actually I think it is State land run by council) The long paddock or common.


On the third of March we received 17mm or 68mm, after our recorded 5mm or 20pts, this was very nice, if it was a the beginning of a start of our wet season, it would be nice, amongst a few happy tears and a frog croaking, as happy as what I was I took this video

This panorama I took of the Horse Paddock, which is in the video, is made up of 24 photos.

#BossMan and I went for a drive to Clearview where I took the start of this video. You hear me mention the 5 Mile in this video which is east of Goodwood.

On Monday 5th of March #BossMan, Claire, Ryan and myself, in various vehicles, for various reasons, (Dr, optometrist, massage, acupuncture, dentist, service of vehicle, flight to Canberra, hairdressers, shopping) headed to Mt Isa. We anticipated when we left Goodwood to head to Mt Isa, and when we crossed the Sandy Channel and the Burke River, in the dark before sunrise, they would be running. We could see the flooding water under the bridges and I don’t think the souriest of lemons could wipe the grins off our faces.
Boulia to Mt Isa is 300 km, nearly directly north. Dajarra is basically halfway and had recorded 88mm which I don’t think they shared with anyone on the south or north side of them. This is where some of the water in our channels come from.
There was a lot of dry country that the rain had missed all of the way up, until about 70 km outside Mt Isa where the creeks had run very big, but had gone back into their banks and most were still running under their causeways, and the countryside was saturated, which was lovely to see.
Ryan travelled back to Mudgeacca on the Monday, having done all he needed to do and was keen to be home to watch the flood water from up north arrive at Mudgeacca. Weren’t we all.
It rained all night in Mt Isa and even though Claire and I were only staying overnight for a hairdressers appointment, of all things, a neighbour told us…….as we were both hesitant to leave home, let alone stay the night with flood waters coming, rain predicted……that we should go, get all our appointments out of the way (for me if I cancelled them again it would have been for the third time) and #BossMan needed to board a plane and get to Canberra.
So like two horses that had their heads pointed for home, as soon as we had finished in the hairdressers, got a take away coffee, Claire and I were heading for home around lunch time.
I took this video on the way home, the cloud was just too good, not to stop and take it, even though we were keen to get home. Where I start the video off, that very white cloud, I’m hoping one of our northern properties Scarsdale, was under that.

I must add, the water that we went through at Deep Creek was about 0.2 when we crossed it. It is a very fast running little gully and we were super cautious and waited over an hour for it to go down from 0.3 to 0.2. Others had been crossing it throughout the day a little deeper, I like leaning on the over careful side when it comes to flood water, even if it is our local patch we know with knowledge. #ifitisFloodedForgetIt

I would like to add that we have been blessed with storms on our two northern blocks Scarsdale and Black Mountain, about 40 km as the crow flies, which has been receiving scattered storms since November. The heaviest fall Black Mountain received when places above it were receiving 100mm and more was 47mm. The fact that this country had received the storms since November made all the difference and we are so happy to say that we have a season up there, meaning, what cattle are there now will, with us moving them around, be able to stay there and survive happily. We were in Mt Isa when our worker, Tojo, who had done a bore run around Black Mountain Monday morning, texted through the rainfalls recorded at the rain gauges we have at several watering points on the 80,000 acres. They ranged from 15mm or 60pts to the 47mm (where the youngest heifers are) or 188pts. I had a little cry of relief, as that is our breeder block and we had been feeding the cattle with loose lick and Beachport.
We were leaving it till the end of March before we started selling the boys (male cattle, steers), to make room for the girls (female cattle, heifers and cows) and shifting the girls around.
It doesn’t have to be done now, but we will muster the girls and put them in an empty paddock, as they are scattered, so that country can be spelled and revive.

I would also like to state that there is plenty of country that hasn’t had any or little rain, and that hasn’t the benefit of channels like we do. I hope that the wet season isn’t over for them or us.

I hope to get my Dame Drone out as soon as it is possible, we haven’t seen the sun for nearly a week now and the wind we are having doesn’t agree with her either. A bit of sun would be nice, to help everything grow. The temperature hasn’t been below 22, so it hasn’t been cold either, rather steamy at times.
It took all day for 9mm to fall the other day, started at about 5.30 finished about 3.30. In that time Mudgeacca had 6mm. Beautiful rain for the dry earth, if we get follow up.

As a Footnote: my 45000 MB of NBN data that was renewed on the 6th of March ran out on the 9th of March. I think I made the silly mistake of using Imessage on my MacBook Pro and with Claire and Ryan sharing their videos of water, I am assuming my data got all used up.
With friends in cities, including Mt Isa, who have ample data and then offered even more for free….. it would just be nice to have enough. None of us watch movies etc via the internet, we use it for emails, SM, my photography, Myob, sharing photos and video with family and friends, as well as using photos to help with selling cattle, getting the right part…

Usually my blogs are more photos than writing, so I hope you were able to follow the information and the videos.
Since writing this blog and being able to share it, due to glitches and blonde moments from blog author, I have been for my chopper ride….. so hopefully photos from that will be my next blog……please follow me so not to miss out….it was awesome, incredibly so, amazing view, a whole new perspective of the land I called home, I very much enjoyed the experience.

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