DESERT OASIS: South Yaamba property owner Robert Smith is going through a bad drought and the recent 0.2 millimetres of rain was very welcome.
DESERT OASIS: South Yaamba property owner Robert Smith is going through a bad drought and the recent 0.2 millimetres of rain was very welcome. Chris Ison

Clouds fail to deliver rain

THE dark clouds promised so much, but didn't deliver for cattle farmers Robert and Dell Smith.

Their South Yaamba property only received 0.2 millimetres as storms passed through the region late on Tuesday.

The couple hasn't seen decent rain since February and describe their 1200 hectares at Darryvale “an oasis among the desert”.

“This year has been extremely dry... normally there's a little bit left in the fodder,” Robert said.

Thanks to an electronic pump in their windmill and Dell's green thumb, their country home, which has been in Robert's family since 1880, has a beautiful garden and an abundance of wildlife, so they aren't too worried.

Robert, 67, has lived at Darryvale “all but 18 months” and Dell, all her married life - almost 45 years.

The couple breed, show and sell clydesdale horses “just for fun” and the majestic stallions are Dell's “ornaments”, although the 900 head of cattle is their lifeblood.

The bad drought they are going though isn't as bad as the floods they had experienced, putting almost the entire property under 1.8 metres of water in 1991 and leaving the property completely cut off for six weeks in 1954. “The river takes a sweeping bend around us so in flood times she's all under water,” he said.

But the changing times is what sticks with Robert the most as he spoke of 1954, a time with no power, kerosene fridges and a wind-up telephone.

But in 1991 they had an automatic telephone and power, and his friend from a neighbouring property had a helicopter and was able to drop supplies.

“Power has been the Mickey Mouse,” he said.

“But living was a hell of a lot better. We lived slower.”

This year has been extremely dry


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