Parched parts of Tasmania got some welcome rain — but one place missed out

Parched parts of Tasmania got some welcome rain — but one place missed out

April rain has brought relief to some farmers across Tasmania this week, although areas struggling through a prolonged dry have missed out.

February and March have been driest on record for more than 100 years in some parts of Tasmania, including Hobart and King Island.

“When we look back at February and March, Hobart only had 12.8 millimetres for those two months and that’s its lowest February to March rainfall on record,” Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Jonathan Pollock said.

“But it was not just lowest on record in Hobart, it was the lowest on record for a lot of the south-east, and also for patch of the north-west [including King Island] and across the Bass Strait islands.”

The lack of rain has affected farmland surrounding Currie on King Island.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

Long waits to secure animal feed

While Hobart’s rainfall data goes back 131 years, King Island’s rain statistics are 114 years old.

Beth Vellekoop, who farms beef on King Island’s north-west, said the island got barely a sprinkle.

“A lot of the rain passed around us, it did a nice little loop and missed us,” Ms Vellekoop said.

“For the islanders that are struggling, it’s tough to see it going everywhere else.

“People are running out of water in their dams, they didn’t get a hay season … so they’ve gone into this drought under prepared.”

Beth Vellekoop says farmers on King Island are struggling through drought conditions.(ABC News: Monte Bovill)

Some King Island farmers have also struggled to offload stock and import extra feed.

“I have heard reports that some people have been waiting 90 days to get their supplementary feed over,” Ms Vellekoop said.

Some relief for other regions

For those regions across Tasmania that were lucky enough to get the April rains, there is relief.

Mr Pollock said there were some high falls, and even some daily records in areas with relatively short historical data.

Caitlan Radford received 44mm on her Moriarty vegetable farm in the north-west .

“It’s making a huge difference, everyone was getting quite nervous with how dry it was, and coming to the end of our irrigation scheme season as well,” she said.

“We’ve been trying to focus all our water on our vegetables to get them through to the end of the season…it’s been a bit of a tricky season,” she added.

Caitlin Radford (left) says 44mm of rain fell at Moriarty, near Devonport.(ABC News)

Livestock farmer Brad Grattidge received just 23mm at his property near Sorell, but he still has a spring in his step.

“It soaked in nicely and with ground temperatures still nice and warm, it’s a good start.

“I sowed turnips three or four weeks ago and I’ve recently sewn oats so they’ll all come up very well now,” Mr Grattidge said.

For Derwent Valley sheep farmer George Shae, it won’t end his need to hand feed livestock but it will hopefully get grass growing.

“It’s very easy for farmers to get into a mindset during drought that it’s never going to rain again and then all of a sudden that does and it’s sort of, ‘oh, where did that come from’. It brightens everything up a bit,” Mr Shae said.

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