No dust on the Diamantina

Diamantina River flood in pictures at Davenport Downs


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The Davenport Downs team poses for a memorable shot during the February 2019 flood. Pictures - Ross Myhill.

The Davenport Downs team poses for a memorable shot during the February 2019 flood. Pictures - Ross Myhill.

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The legend of the Channel Country is alive and well again along the Diamantina, thanks to the big rain that fell around Kynuna, Winton and Corfield in early February.

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The legend of the Channel Country is alive and well again along the Diamantina, thanks to the big rain that fell around Kynuna, Winton and Corfield in early February.

While the beef producers along the Cooper are still waiting for a wet season flood to happen, the country further west is starting to respond from water levels that came just shy of 1974 records in parts.

"It spread out wider than I could have ever imagined," Davenport Downs manager Ross Myhill said.

"There were sandhills and ridges that I thought would never possibly go underwater, but they did.

"It was a privilege to see such a massive flood on Davenport. There was so much water, and so much force behind it."

Floodwater that fell around Winton, Kynuna and Corfield creep across the sandhills at Davenport Downs last month.

Floodwater that fell around Winton, Kynuna and Corfield creep across the sandhills at Davenport Downs last month.

It's a good news story for the second year in a row for Queensland's largest cattle station, 350km south west of Winton.

Last March the Paraway staff prepared for a flood equivalent to 1999/2000 levels, constructing a levee to protect the homestead complex.

The homestead complex at Davenport Downs saw some minor inundation from the Diamantina flood earlier this year.

The homestead complex at Davenport Downs saw some minor inundation from the Diamantina flood earlier this year.

This time they ended up with water through a few buildings but nothing in comparison to the disaster in the north of the state.

"We had time on our side - we knew the water was coming so we were ready for it," Mr Myhill said.

Still, the torrent came down faster than normal - from the first lot of rain around Winton/Kynuna to the peak at the homestead was 13 days.

Benjamin and Alexander Myhill frolic in the floodwaters at Davenport Downs, while Alayia Staib and Zach Weir contemplate the scene in their tinny, along with Mitchell Stewart and Corri Deighton in front of the staff social club.

Benjamin and Alexander Myhill frolic in the floodwaters at Davenport Downs, while Alayia Staib and Zach Weir contemplate the scene in their tinny, along with Mitchell Stewart and Corri Deighton in front of the staff social club.

In other floods, the Diamantina River-Farrah's Creek system has spread out up to 25km in places, across 20 to 25 per cent of the 1.5 million hectare fattening operation, but this year it was an inland ocean, according to Ross.

The Davenport Downs-Springvale aggregation has the capacity to carry around 25,000 head and last year's flood in March allowed the company to carry through around 70 per cent of its average numbers.

It’s been three years since Davenport Downs had any decent or widespread rainfall in the outside country, so they were about to muster sale cattle when the rain started to fall up north.

"Our outlook improved with every day that it rained," Ross said.

Related: Birdsville cut off as Diamantina rises

Since the inundation they've been watching the green feed start to shoot through this year's floodwaters.

"Now that the water is receding, we can already see it coming away on the edges of where the water peaked.

"It’s not a sea of green just yet, but we’re hoping. We’ll just have to see how the feed responds in the middle of the channels after sitting underwater for a fair while.  

"It’ll allow us to grow a heap of kgs of beef in the river, that’s for sure."

A helicopter pushes an isolated mob of cattle through floodwaters at the bottom end of Davenport Downs to dry ground.

A helicopter pushes an isolated mob of cattle through floodwaters at the bottom end of Davenport Downs to dry ground.

The flood peaked at the Davenport homestead mid-February and is still receding on the southern end of the property.

Ross said the flood had changed their outlook for the year for the better.

"Once that feed in the river takes off, we’re going to be in a really good position," he said, explaining the balancing game that would take place now for the rest of the year.

"We want to make the most of the feed that’ll grow in the river but be mindful of our overall numbers as we need to be able to graze those animals on the outside country later in the year.

"We’ll just keep an eye on it and make a plan as we go."

He said they felt deeply for everyone in the north that had copped the brunt of the rainfall and flooding a month ago, that had faced up to devastation beyond belief.

"We’re extremely grateful for how we fared, and this flood will do great things for the Channel Country," he said.

Read more: That's not a station: THIS is a Channel Country station!

Tendrils of flood water creeping across the dry plains at Davenport Downs.

Tendrils of flood water creeping across the dry plains at Davenport Downs.

Queensland Country Life

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