WESTERN QLD FLOODS: 'In one place I saw 3,000 dead cattle'
AN ALPHA grazier and helicopter pilot has seen scenes this week he could have never imagined.
Jamie Bush, 28, has been assisting graziers in the Corfield region as they battle the aftermath of the North Queensland floods that struck earlier this month.
Mr Bush has a helicopter business, contracted for all sorts of air work from charter, photography, feral animal control, search and rescue, sling operations, fire lighting, mustering and all bush services.
Based at his property at Alpha, he normally services the Central Highlands from Alpha to Aramac, Tambo and Springsure in the south and up to the Belyando Crossing.
But for the past week he has changed directions and has been helping out in the Corfield district (80km north of Winton) around Winton, Richmond and Julia Creek.
Mr Bush has been staying with the Mutelwit and Carrington families, where he has been "more than well-looked after", despite the hard circumstances.
To say the scenes below him on the ground have been "quite horrible" is an understatement.
"The place where I am, there could be up to 3,000 sheep dead," he said.
"I don't how many carcasses I have seen.
"In one place I saw 3, 000 dead cattle, quite horrific especially being a grazier myself."
Up to half a million cattle are estimated to be dead after what has been labelled a national disaster.
Some cattle froze to their death while others were swept away in the uncontrollable floodwaters.
Some were bogged in the thick mud and left stuck in the ground unable to move.
The cattle stations surrounding Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mount Isa were the hardest hit farming regions with farmers estimating at least 50 per cent stock losses.
Mr Bush has been with a number of those farmers, taking them up in his chopper and showing them their devastated land below, unable to be accesses by vehicle as it is still too wet.
"It's an eye opener for them and it's not a good one," he said.
"It's a silent flight... there is nothing you can do... they have lost half of their herd... You feel sorry for them.
"That is their income, they are without an income for the next three years."
It can be an awkward flight, words can't convey the devastation that lies below.
"Some people you take up and they say it could be a lot worse, others say I didn't realise it was this bad," he said.
"You try and make the best out of the situation."
In Mr Bush's almost 10-year career in the sky he has never seen anything like it.,
"I've never come up to a paddock to see 400 dead cattle huddled in one corner," he said.
"Like they are trying to get warm, but pneumonia got in.
"In places you see mobs of dead cattle and you think 'holy hell' and then you see alive ones, you think how is that possible."
Part of Western Queensland have been in drought for the past seven years and to be hit with this flood is just unfathomable.
"They say you can control a drought, feed your herd and that sort of thing but this here came in overnight and ruins your herd," Mr Bush said.
"They had rain between 500 to 800mm.
It's frustrating for Mr Bush because back home in the Central Highlands, they saw none of the rain.
"As for the drought, you come to one side of Queensland, it's flooding and wet and then you go to the Central Highlands and we got 10-20mm," he said.
"It's one extreme to the other, it would be nice if it was evenly spread, but that is Mother Nature."
Throughout this whole situation, what has resonated with the pilot is the resilience of the farmers and the strength of the local community in Corfield.
He has been dropping hay and fodder down from the helicopter sling and trucks and trucks of hay is being sent out the farmers from agents in town.
He is among many other helicopter pilots helping out.
"The community here is unreal, I haven't seen anything like it," he said.
"There hasn't been a night go by at the house I am staying at where a neighbour hasn't called up to see if everyone's okay.
"There's hundreds of them out here helping.... it really shows the true Aussie spirit."
Mr Bush will stay for another week or so until things get under control.
He said it will be a "long road ahead for them all".
"It will be months cleaning up, fixing fences," he said.
NORTH QLD FLOODS:
- Estimated 500,000 dead cattle
- Farmers face between 50 to 100 per cent stock losses
- Estimated loss of up to $300million
- Western QLD was previously in drought for 7 years
- 3 years worth of rain in 10 days
- Properties around Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mount Isa most affected