Goomeri producer John Cotter.
Goomeri producer John Cotter.

’Never been this bad …’ Why drought is on the way for Gympie

HE HASN’T yet seen fire on his doorstep, but Goomeri producer and well-regarded cattle industry leader John Cotter says desperate drought conditions could have one flare up at any moment.

As severe fires bore down on Kilkivan and Black Snake late yesterday afternoon, Mr Cotter was left to lament the potentially disastrous combination of tinder dry pastures and critically low access to surface water for landowners in the western reaches of the region.

Power 30 – Tony Perrett
Power 30 – Tony Perrett

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“Well so far so good, we had a near miss on Sunday,” Mr Cotter said.

“Someone lit it up out here on the Nanango Rd which would have been a catastrophe if it had have got into the Broadacre open country, one of the locals got onto it straight away and put it out. But we’ve got fires out the back of Kilkivan at the moment and they’re going to cause a lot of heartache before they finish.

“I guess tomorrow’s the big challenge, when you’ve got the potential for high winds and spotfires coming out of them, or if something else goes wrong locally.

“The other thing which is a lot of country is a lot barer than normal, we didn’t have a lot of summer rain so we don’t have the amount of feed as we usually like to have on our country, which gives us a chance to get onto a fire if we can get there quick enough.

“I’ve never had our country as low in feed stock in reserve feed, pasture feed, I’ve never had it as bad as it is in many years.

“It’s a hand to mouth, day-to-day job.”

Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner.
Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner.

Mr Cotter, who has had his own property individually drought declared “for a number of years”, said he thought the Gympie region could be headed back toward a complete drought declaration if desolate conditions continued for as little as a few more weeks.

Gympie MP Tony Perrett has renewed calls for Agriculture Minister Mark Furner to reconvene the Local Drought Committee and discuss current conditions in the region.

Mr Furner pointed out Local Drought Committees “are empowered to meet whenever they deem conditions warrant further assessment”.

Hear more from Mr Perrett and Mr Furner in tomorrow’s edition of The Gympie Times.