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ABC News
ABC News

Rain gives Central Australian cattle producers confidence in 'exceptional' year ahead

Pastoralist Liz Bird says the cattle country north-east of Alice Springs was so green "it hurt your eyes" after receiving good rains around Christmas.

Those rains were followed by further downpours this week as a number of locations around Central Australia recorded more than 100 millimetres. 

Normally dry creeks flooded and already green paddocks continued to burst with fresh growth.

At Huckitta Station, 270 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, Anna Gook said the country was looking "amazing".

"Our rivers run and disappear pretty quickly, but there is plenty of feed around — cattle are fat and happy," she said.

"We're coming into our fifth year [at Huckitta] now — and this is by far the best year."

Ali Curung Bore received 106mm this week, Rabbit Flat in the Tanami had 161mm, and 71mm fell at Tennant Creek airport. 

Stewart Weir, who runs cattle across a number of properties in the Sandover region, said they had all benefited from good rain, including an isolated storm which dropped more than 200mm on one bore. 

"We've had about 420mm since just before Christmas, which is well above our average [rainfall]," he said. 

"It's going to be an exceptional year, I think.

"All of our properties have had some really good rain, so I think it's going to be one of those years where you can sell some fat cattle and hang on to the rest."

Mr Weir said the rain would allow him to buy cattle and restock country from which he had moved cattle.

"We trade a few cattle, so as long as we can buy cattle at the right price, we'll buy some steers and load up some of this better country," he said.

"Arapunya Station was really dry a few years ago, so we basically did a full destock … and that country has really responded [from the rain].

"We'll be able to spread our weaners and cattle out now."

Ms Bird said while the rain was great for her cattle at Indiana Station, it also brought the risk of fire later in the year.

"We don't tend to have a lot of cattle because we don't have a lot of water, so when we have too much rain we have a too much grass," she said.

"So we just have to manage that risk, like we manage every other risk."

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