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Joy of rain

Monday, 12th January, 2015

Rachel and Jessi Degoumois have fun in the mud near Packsaddle. Rachel and Jessi Degoumois have fun in the mud near Packsaddle.

By Michael Murphy

Constant rain over the weekend has quelled a fierce start to the year, drenching relieved cockies and soaking the Silver City.

While rainfall varied across the district - with one station recording more than 200mm - most got a taste of the wet stuff and were happy with their lot.

Friday was a special day for Kate Herring, of Gum Park Station, about 120km north west of Broken Hill.

It was not only the day the rain came, but it was also the fourth birthday of her son, Angus.

“He hadn’t seen water running into the house before, we haven’t had heavy rain here since he was born,” Kate said.

“He loved jumping in the muddy puddles ... we had a ball.”

Gum Park received about 75mm, and the dams they had checked so far were brimming.

“It’s a massive relief,” Kate said yesterday, adding that she was particularly happy the rain had filled their house dam.

“The last time we had water into that dam was 2011, in 2012 it went dry, and my husband has been carting water in the water truck pretty much since then.”

They have eight dams on the property and all but two had dried up. They were in the process of getting rid of stock so they could keep their “breeders”.

Kate and her family spent most of yesterday checking dams and water levels.

One dam they hadn’t been able to check was one about 32km from the homestead. That dam dried up last month for the first time in 33 years.

Ruth Sandow of Pimpara Lake Station, 200km north of Broken Hill, said they received 131.5mm.

The Sandows flew around their property yesterday morning to check the gift from above, and they liked what they saw.

“The first thing - looking at the landscape and seeing the sheer volume of water - is the realisation that the water will germinate grasses and perennial plants and give us stock feed for the next 12 to 15 months,” Ruth said.

The Sandows have 15 “earth tanks” or dams, and their three biggest ones and two smaller ones were dry before the rain hit.

Ruth said it was “terrific” most of them were now full and working properly, especially the ones that had been desilted and reinforced during the dry.

“With those dams having that water on storage is absolutely critical for dry land properties like ours,” Ruth said.

“Some of those earth tanks will give up to four years’ water storage without any water catchment in that period.”

On the ground, the local wildlife also joined the chorus.

“Some of the other little joys of having this is the countryside is just croaking,” Ruth said.

“The native frogs have come to life and the noise level is quite incredible.”

Pine View Station, about 180 kilometres north of Broken Hill, near the South Australian border, got a massive drop, 203mm. Others weren’t so lucky and got smaller readings.

“We have got to be mindful that not everyone has benefited from the rain,” Ruth said.

“It would be nice to think that at some point it evens out so that everyone gets a fair share.” 

Packsaddle was cut off after the Packsaddle and Coco creeks flowed freely over the Silver City Highway.

Packsaddle Roadhouse owner Mia Degoumois said they recorded 135mm, and the bulk of it came on Saturday night when it “absolutely poured”.

She had a few people at the roadhouse, but most had planned to stay.

“The good thing was that everyone knew this weather was coming, so everyone was prepared for it, everyone has taken notice that it was going to happen.”

While being cut off from the rest of the world does slow down business, Mia couldn’t help but talk about the upside.

“It’s great for the community, it has lifted spirits, it changes the whole mood of everyone,” Mia said.

From the weekend’s downpour, Broken Hill received 49.6mm up until 9am yesterday. Broken Hill has a total of 55.2mm of rain this month, 14mm above the January average.

The wettest January on record for the Silver City was 165.8mm in 1974, while the most rain recorded in 24 hours in January was 75.2mm in 1961.

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