Tag: West Wimmera

‘A devastating year’: North-west Victoria records lowest-ever rainfall totals

Mildura 3500

Victoria’s north-west has recorded its worst year of rainfall on record, with farmers in parts of the Mallee experiencing back-to-back failed harvests.

Key points:

  • Farmers in Victoria’s north-west say they’re trying to stay positive despite a “devastating” year
  • The Mallee and Millewa regions saw record-low rainfall this year, smashing previous records set in 1982
  • In the state’s west, however, farmers are counting themselves extremely lucky to have reaped a bumper harvest

Data from the Bureau of Meteorology shows 116.5 millimetres of rain has been recorded at Mildura Airport this year, breaking the previous record low of 121.6mm set in 1982.

Further west of Mildura, in the Millewa region, farmers have had a devastating year, with just 90mm of rain recorded at Werrimull, also breaking the record set there in 1982.

“We’ve only seen 2.5mm of rain fall in December in Mildura and temperatures have been right above average,” BOM senior forecaster Michael Efron said.

“They’ve been really hit not just this year, but the last few years as well, and we’ve seen crops struggling.”

“It doesn’t look too promising in terms of rainfall in the next few months.”

Farmers in the state’s south-east have had a similarly tough year, experiencing their third year of drought.


Daily dust storms in parts of Victoria caused sandy top soil to build up along fences and roads. (ABC Rural: Isabella Pittaway)

‘We need to be positive’

Despite the lack of rainfall in the north-west, farmers are trying to stay upbeat.

Ron Hards farms in the Millewa region and said he received 65mm of rain during the growing season.

“We usually average 250mm and the growing season is the really important one.

“Some properties had about 28mm, and absolutely nothing was growing on those properties.

“It’s been a devastating year.”

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Mr Hards said it has been a drier year than in 1982, when the Millewa received 104mm.

“This is our driest year ever,” he said.

“Hopefully we can turn over a new leaf with the new year and it might be better.

“It was a pretty heartbreaking year but we need to be positive.

“The Millewa is very productive most years — we know it’s dry and dusty now, but everyone has a drought.

“This one is a beauty, but everyone has their day.”


Some properties in the region are only accessible by four-wheel drive. (ABC Rural: Cherie von Hörchner)

Bumper harvest in the west

It’s a very different story further south, with Wimmera and Southern Mallee farmers enjoying a strong harvest.

West Wimmera farmer Jonathan Dyer said despite the rainfall being just below average, he is enjoying good yields.


Wind is blowing topsoil away and farmers fear it will take years for some landscapes to recover. (ABC News: Lucy Barbour)

“It’s been remarkable really, because we’ve had decile two to three rainfall for the growing season, and yet we’re seeing average yields.

“So it’s a good news story really.”

One of the country’s largest grain handlers, Graincorp, is expecting up to 10 western Victorian receival sites to break records this season.

Supply chain manager Craig Cochrane said sites are filling up fast in West Wimmera.

“We have reached at records in Jeparit, Rainbow and Warracknabeal and Lillimur and Nhill are there too,” he said.

“Across Victoria we have taken in 2.5 million tonnes and are heading towards our forecast.

“The north-west and north-east are below what we expected, but the Wimmera has been more potent than everyone thought.”

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Mr Dyer said modern farming methods are helping farmers make the most of the rain, but said farmers in western Victoria are also feeling lucky.

“We’ve had good fortune with timing of rainfall and the relatively cool spring we had,” he said.

“In terms of farmers’ hip pockets, things are very good at the moment because prices for everything are very good, so our area’s feeling very fortunate at the moment, for sure.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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