Two-year-old Longreach boy witnesses first proper storm
FORGET gumboots and a raincoat, earmuffs were young James Walker's wet weather protection when thunderstorms hit his Camden Park homestead.
The two-year-old, who lives on a 20,000 acre property between Ilfracombe and Longreach, recently experienced his first thunderstorm and it was so loud he needed ear protection.
James' dad, who also goes by the name James Walker, said over the past fortnight, Camden Park had received its best rain since the end of 2012 and the kids are loving it. "In the last 10 days we have had just over five inches of rain," Mr Walker said.
"All nine dams on the property are full and all of the creeks are running and the Longreach River is starting to flood. The kids, Chloe (5), Sophia (7) and James (2) are just loving it. This is first time James has seen good rain."
Mr Walker, whose family has owned the Camden Park beef, sheep and hay property since the 1950s, said the rain had brought a sense of relief and hope to the Central West community.
"All of our dams have been empty since 2014 and we have been de-stocked since 2013," he said. "The rain really changes the outlook completely. We have a long way to go in terms of recovery.
"The drought has been bad but you just have to adjust to it. It's early days but everyone is quite hopeful. The outlook is a lot better but there are still some people who have missed out which we are praying for. We're in repair mode; the country is starting to recover but there is a long way to go from three seasons of deficit."
Outside of farming, Mr Walker said he has been working on other projects throughout the drought to keep himself busy, including launching an initiative called agrihive.com here and in the UK.
"In January, they asked me to speak at the University of Oxford about drought, resilience and what we are working on for farming and agriculture. It was a true honour," he said.
"We are now focusing our efforts on a solar farm here, building an exclusive management tool for the beef industry and supporting my brother's tourism venture.
"One other thing...we can't wait to get that first truck of cattle back over the grid."