The washed out railway bordering Max Mayne’s property during the floods.
The washed out railway bordering Max Mayne’s property during the floods.

Back from the brink after floods

AS the water receded from Rolleston farmer Max Mayne's cotton cultivation in mid-January last year, the struggle to resurrect his property was only just beginning.

Breaking the banks of the Comet River, destroying levee banks and centre pivots, the water came and came until it flooded some 2000 hectares of cotton on his property, Mayneland.

Among Central Queensland cotton farmers, he was not alone.

The 2010 plant was initially tipped as one of Australia's biggest, due in no small part to the contribution of the Central Highlands and the Callide and Dawson valleys.

But the hope of such predictions came crashing down when the summer floods hit, taking with it millions of dollars worth of crops, machinery and roads from across the Central Queensland.

For Max, like so many others, floods were not a new thing just a part of the gamble that is life on the land.

But these floods were unprecedented in both scale and ferocity, and a year on Max was still picking up the pieces.

"I think one of the biggest things to deal with after the flood was just finding everything you'd lost," Max said.

"We had siphons and chemical drums and tanks and machinery strewn all over the place, and we still haven't found it all."

But despite the scale of the task ahead, he got on with it.

"When it comes to disasters like the flood, I think you can't just sit on your arse - you've got to pull your finger out and get it done.

"But the cost was incredible.

"We had to stick rake our whole property again, and we had logs the size that three blokes would be hard pressed to lift, caught metres off the ground in centre pivots."

The dismal state of his property was unforgettable but luckily the homestead was spared the unrelenting water.

"In the middle of a flood, people would ring me up and ask how Mayne Island was going, it became a bit of a joke, from the air especially, it really looked like the house was built on an island," he said.

"We did our best to get the tractors and headers and everything full of diesel and running again, but there wasn't a motor on the property, except the helicopter, that didn't need to be replaced or repaired."

After months of sleepless nights, Max was about to face more travails.

"We've had a few issues with the insurance, you know - I think it's funny because you don't really stop to read the fine print on your insurance until something like that happens.

"On top of that, I was really disappointed that even though I welcomed the railway to use my roads to fix the rail line and they promised to help, they left in the middle of the night and never came back.

"I haven't heard back since about whether they will help."

While Max waited for the insurance to come through, the local John Deere dealer came through with what came to be known as "flood credit".

With a lack of available cash to put into new machinery, the local dealer gave Max a hand in the form a new tractor to get the recovery started.

But a year on from the initial shock, Max is still recovering and he said it will take some time to resurrect Mayneland.

"To get the place back to what it was, and how well we had it running, I think that will take us the better part of another two years," Max said.

"We're just really lucky there's such a great community here, in town and all our neighbours out here.

"There's still a lot of damage we haven't repaired yet - we look at the big picture and just do what we can do."

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