Drought, fireplace, and now floods in just three years for Queensland farmers

Three years in the past, Ilse Heidegger battled bushfires with a leaf blower on her cattle property at Woolooga, in South-East Queensland.

In the years since, she and her husband, Peter Olivier, have watched as their area, north-west of Gympie, suffered by the drought.

Now in 2022, the couple has confronted down one more catastrophe — this time a devastating flood. 

Female and male stand next to eachother in front of a yard where horses are being housed.
Ilse Heidegger and Peter Olivier scrambled to avoid wasting cattle on Friday night time when floodwaters arrived unexpectedly.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Caught off guard by torrential rain, Ms Heidegger and Mr Olivier rushed to avoid wasting cattle trapped in their backside paddock.

Separated from the cattle by water run-off gushing by, the couple devised a plan.

“I might attempt and encourage the ladies to observe me, Peter would go behind to just push them by,” she mentioned.

“Unfortunately, by that point, the water was rising and much more ferocious than what we had initially anticipated. A few calves received swept up into the present.”

Mr Oliver saved a calf, born just that day, from floodwaters.

“When I went by to get behind the cattle, I used to be about ankle-deep in the water, and once I circled inside just 10 to fifteen minutes, it went as much as knee top,” he mentioned.

Cattle stand in a paddock in foreground with floods in background
In the previous three years, the couple has handled drought, fireplace, and floods on their Woolooga property.(Supplied: Ilse Heidegger)

Managing to rescue one of many two calves swept away, the couple carried the 30 to 40kg calf by floodwaters to greater floor.

Adding to the couple’s eventful night time, Ms Heidegger’s gumboots had washed away leaving her barefoot in the paddock and uncovered to threats apart from rising floodwater.

Even although they misplaced a calf, Ms Heidegger pressured that they had been very fortunate.

“We had been very lucky by comparability to a number of different folks,” she mentioned.

‘Trials and tribulations’ of farming

It was a stressed night time for the couple, however they woke to seek out their cattle had survived and, extremely, the new child calf had discovered its mom. 

“I do not actually identify cows however she’s in fact named Mermaid,” Ms Heidegger mentioned.

A calf and her mother stand next to eachother in a field.
Mermaid the calf was saved on Friday night time after she was swept away by floodwaters.(ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

A deep love of their animals has made the previous three years of drought, fireplace and flood a traumatic expertise for the couple.

“But that is our residence. And so, , by trials and tribulations, we’re extremely blessed and extremely lucky that we did survive by the fires.”

Smoke billows in a red sky with a paddock, trees, a house and powerlines silhouetted against the red of the sky.
In 2018, Ilse Heidegger and Peter Olivier’s property at Woolooga was surrounded by bushfires.(Supplied: Ilse Heidegger)

Others in the realm weren’t so lucky.

“Our hearts exit to all these farmers who’ve misplaced 20 or 30 head of cattle,” Ms Heidegger mentioned.

“Nobody can actually put themselves in their sneakers, and so our ideas and prayers exit to them.”

‘The definition of farming’

Clocking up greater than 540mm of rain throughout the flood occasion, Ms Heidegger mentioned it was “unimaginable climate”.

“We have by no means skilled one thing like that. And not that way back, we had the fires that got here by Woolooga. So it has been a little bit of fires, drought, flood, so we’re going to must take a little bit of a breather for 2022.”

Mr Olivier mentioned it was half and parcel of the agricultural way of life.

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