In the devastating aftermath of the recent Queensland floods, Hannah Tanks stood on her family’s Winton property and saw a calf stranded alone on a ridge, separated from its mother by the disaster.
The following day Hannah found the calf feeding from a cow that was already feeding four calves. It was a special moment – it’s rare and unusual for a cow to accept an orphan calf, especially when the cow is struggling and in poor condition. The moment delivered a welcome window of joy to Hannah in contrast to the surrounding devastation.
The Corella Cattle Company breeds Santa Gertrudis cattle on a property that has been in Hannah’s family since her Great Grandfather arrived in the area. While they’ve already endured the challenges of drought for several years, the recent floods have had a dramatic impact on their stock and livelihood.
Following record-breaking rainfall, it’s estimated nearly half a million cattle died during the floods across Queensland, with Hannah’s family losing about 200 of their 500 cattle and 80 per cent of their calves.
“That’s over a third of our stock and means a loss of income for at least two years,” Hannah said.
“And that’s just our place. For so many properties and people around here the flooding has been overwhelming – there are plenty of others worse off than us.”
Help wasn’t far away. As soon as flood-affected areas were accessible, the Department of Human Services used their Mobile Service Centres (MSC) to deliver assistance and services to many of those affected.
The Department has two MSCs, Golden Wattle and Desert Rose, providing Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services to rural and regional Australia. The 20 tonne trucks are operated by department staff and can be called upon at any time to assist communities impacted by disasters or other emergencies.
Debra Inskip, Manager for the trip that visited Hannah’s community, said the effects of the flood were clearly visible.
“Our team witnessed many dead and sick cattle driving from Winton to McKinlay,” said Debra.
“This flood has been felt across many communities, so it was great to be able to provide people with friendly face-to-face service and support, tailored to their specific needs.”
On this trip, Golden Wattle travelled over 3,500 km to help communities in Winton, Richmond, Hughenden, Julia Creek, Cloncurry, McKinlay and Kynuna.
“We assisted hundreds of customers on this trip with claims and financial assistance,” Debra said.
“We also had a social worker accompany us to provide short-term counselling and referrals.”
It’s going to be a long road back for Hannah and her community in Winton.
“This will have a long-term effect on local business and graziers, we know that,” said Hannah.
“We’re a resilient community who look after each other, we’ll get back on our feet. We really welcome the assistance and support we get from the department’s Mobile Service Centre team.”
The challenges are relentless for the area – mustering season has begun and, with cattle moving into other properties, graziers need to reclaim their stock.
“With so many cows dying it’s been hard to know which calf belongs to which cow – we don’t want to take these calves and hand feed them just in case their mother comes back,” said Hannah.
“I’d love to see more calf adoption moments like the one up on the ridge.”
- Read more about Mobile Service Centres.
- Read more about Farm Household Allowance.
- Find out more about the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency.