It has been over two years since New South Wales plunged into drought.
Most important points:
Landowners in parts of the state are not yet convinced they are out of the forest after years of drought
After widespread rain and multiple floods, the NSW Department of Primary Industries says the state is officially drought-free.
“That’s because of continued rainfall and a strong recovery over a few years,” said Anthony Clark of the department.
But the recovery has not been evenly distributed, with parts of the far southwest and east receiving less rain than elsewhere.
“We’ve had some regions that lagged in recovery,” said Mr. Clark.
“We’re seeing a few patches that may not have come out as well as we’d like.
“If farmers there don’t say that reflects their conditions on the ground, we’re aware of it.”
The DPI says all of NSW is officially drought-free. (Supplied: NSW DPI)
Gus Whyte, who owns property between Wentworth and Broken Hill, says he is not convinced the drought has ended in his area.
“Most people in our region are kind of shy to say this drought is over because it started sometime around 2017, and we’re now five years on, and it’s been very dry,” he said.
Until a month ago, Mr. Whyte had recorded about 10 millimeters of rain on his property since the start of the year, but more than 80 millimeters have fallen in recent weeks.
“It looks like a lawn — it’s bright green, a veneer of green around the countryside,” he said.
He said it would take much more sustained rain to pull the district out of the drought.
“I’d like to see three consecutive months where we had above-average rainfall,” he said.
“We’re on track to do that.”
The Far West has been experiencing drought since 2017. Landowners are hesitant to say it is already over. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Christopher Testa)
The state’s recovery has seen some setbacks in the past two years.
By early 2021, more than 96 percent of the state was believed to be out of the drought.
That dropped to 86 percent in August 2021 and then gradually increased again.
“It’s just a snapshot,” said Tambar Springs farmer Xavier Martin.
The NSW Farmers’ Association vice president said the figure was gratifying, but it would take much longer for companies to bounce back.
“I appreciate that the recent rains have changed that, but that also doesn’t mean farms will recover in that short time,” said Mr. Martin.
Many parts of the state have experienced major flooding in the past two years. (included)
The downside to the end of the drought is the major flooding that repeatedly hit the far northeast of the state and parts of the central west in late 2021.
Martin said crop and livestock losses would run into the billions of dollars.
“It’s hardest for people when there are years of drought that aren’t profitable, and then you go very quickly into sub-profit years of flooding, possibly with a wildfire in between,” he said.
“It’s pretty catastrophic to try to run a profitable business.”