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Flood waters bring relief to drought affected -

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The wet season in the tropical north has delivered deluge after deluge, with yet another cyclone
sweeping into Queensland over the weekend. And recent rain in the south east of the continent has
finally brought relief to some of the worst drought areas in the country.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Such is the nature of the Australian climate that in parts of Eastern
Australia that have been locked in drought for a decade, they're now praying for the rain to stop.

The wet season in the tropical North has delivered deluge after deluge, with yet another cyclone
sweeping into Queensland over the weekend. And recent rain in the south east of the continent has
finally brought relief to some of the worst drought areas in the country.

Many rivers are now running strongly out of Queensland into New South Wales, and will deliver
desperately needed flows all the way to the bottom of the Murray River in South Australia.

Some areas of drought remain but there's widespread jubilation at the change in fortunes.

Paul Lockyer reports.

(Strong winds whistle)

PAUL LOCKYER, REPORTER: As cyclone Ului tore across Queensland's central coast, it wasn't just the
destruction from the 200 an hour winds that landholders feared, but the downpour that would be
delivered to a state already awash from a drenching summer.

There was much concern in Saint George and other communities across southern Queensland just
starting to recover from record flooding.

DONNA STEWART, MAYOR OF BALONNE SHIRE: Of course it would be a concern if it starts to rain here,
people would have that at the back of their minds that "Here we go again".

PAUL LOCKYER: But for the moment, clear skies are holding over the huge flood area, which grows
bigger everyday as the water stretches across the irrigation properties of Southern Queensland into
New South Wales.

The Narran River is just one of many waterways delivering the flow across the border.

It has peaked at near-record levels at the village of Angledool - and will stay just as high for
two to three weeks.

RORY TREWEEKE, GRAZIER: This is going to be an extraordinarily big one in one long peak.

PAUL LOCKYER: Right out to the far west of New South Wales, the rivers are rising.

Debbie Kaluder is constantly checking to see how much more of her property north of Bourke has been
covered by the Cuttaburra creek.

It flows on to form an enormous basin which is already full.

DEBBIE KALUDER, GRAZIER: This volume of water that we're going to need, with all the rivers running
as they are, to be able to start to set things right again.

PAUL LOCKYER: The Cuttaburra Basin was first fed by heavy rains at Christmas time. Now the water
stretches up to 20 kilometres long and more than 10 kilometres wide.

It's a magnificent sight, especially for Debbie Kaluder, who is both a grazier and a
conservationist.

She's the secretary of the Australian Floodplains Association.

DEBBIE KALUDER: Relief environmentally for the wetlands that haven't been able to get a drink and
the little billabongs along the way and the birdlife and the plant life that have just been hanging
on for so many years.

PAUL LOCKYER: But it comes at a cost. Some properties have been swamped.

Others have been isolated since the beginning of the year, relying on food drops or ferrying in
supplies in everything from tinnies to kayaks.

The McGrath family now has to paddle five kilometres to a vehicle they've left parked on the other
side of the floodwaters.

DALE MCGRATH, GRAZIER: The kayaks are so light - actually there's one there - they're so light you
can roar along in them. No, they're the go.

PAUL LOCKYER: The kayaks were a Christmas gift for the children. Now they're a crucial part of the
flood relief effort and will be for weeks to come.

DALE MCGRATH: Have to get a big one, four seater, so Sandi can row. I can sit in the back having a
beer probably.

PAUL LOCKYER: A sense of humour is essential out here, especially for those who find themselves
deep in floodwaters trying to rescue stranded sheep.

PHILLIP RIDGE, GRAZIER: We're actually got water to our knees and mud to my ankle. It's not ideal
conditions so it's hard yakka

PAUL LOCKYER: Phillip Ridge had to call for a helicopter shuttle to lift hundreds of sheep to high
ground on his property.

PHILLIP RIDGE: We don't like to see our animals suffer at all so we're keen to get them out.

DALE MCGRATH: Every cage that goes you think, "You little beauty". You know? Like, it's a few less
that you're going to lose.

We're pretty lucky here. We got most of ours out.

PAUL LOCKYER: Stock losses from the flood are already big and climbing by the day and there'll be a
huge damages bill from the flood.

BEN FARGHER, NATIONAL FARMERS FEDERATION: Long term optimism with the water in the system but some
people are under extreme duress in the immediate time, of course.

PAUL LOCKYER: Ben Fargher of the National Farmers Federation believes rural Australia is poised to
swiftly bounce back.

BEN FARGHER: It's positive, people are optimistic about it. It gives farmers and regional
communities an opportunity to produce and that's what we've been lacking.

PAUL LOCKYER: Rory Treweeke agrees, as he happily takes in the sight of the Narran River steadily
spreading across his property.

RORY TREWEEKE: Well, there's nothing like a flood to reinvigorate the floodplain, put in the deep
subsoil moisture that even rain can't do, so we're looking forward to at least a couple of really
good years after this.

PAUL LOCKYER: Much of the water flowing from Queensland is heading for the Darling River, at
Bourke.

It won't reach there until the middle of next month and it'll be mid-year before it gets all the
way down the darling to the Murray River and on to South Australia - a gift from Queensland,
according to the mayor in Saint George.

DONNA STEWART: Brace themselves for what's coming and maybe get ready to celebrate because
obviously there's been really, really big problems down there and hopefully Queensland can help
overcome those.

PAUL LOCKYER: Week by week since the beginning of the year, spreading rain has brought relief to
many drought areas.

Some parts of the country are still in trouble, but the flowing rivers are bringing a dramatic mood
change in rural Australia.

BEN FARGHER: It can rain, there's water in our systems. We're good at producing food and fibre in
this country when it does rain and of course, that is a big input into our national accounts.

DEBBIE KALUDER: Water's huge. The calming effect that it has, the hope that it gives you when you
see it coming-coming down or even just flowing across your land. And then the green grass and
pasture growth from that just brings everybody hope.