Following the National Drought Forum held in Rockhampton last month, five Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) representatives joined members of the TNQ Drought Hub on a two-day road trip from Rockhampton to Mackay with the aim of learning more about the local challenges faced by those in the region.
The DAFF representatives included Melissa Brown, First Assistant Secretary of the Farm Resilience Division, Laura Smith, Principal Director of the Future Drought Fund Innovations and Adoption, and Katrina Baxendell, Director for R&A Strategy and Hub Management.
Departing from Rockhampton on Wednesday, 27 September, their first stop was at a Reef Catchments NRM property located near Mackay, owned by Jason and Sala Bradford. Situated at Sandringham Wetlands, the property encompasses a unique combination of cane and grazing lands along with a natural wetland.
The visit offered the opportunity to showcase examples of preparation and improvements for long-term viability. This included the property’s wetland restoration which resulted in a deeper channel and refuge pools for wildlife during the dry seasons. These improvements have been vital in preserving the natural ecosystem of the area.
In addition to the wetland restoration, the property has invested in increased fencing to protect sensitive areas, improve cattle movement, and reduce grazing pressures. They’ve also introduced mobile watering points and have incorporated hymenachne as a food source during the dry season as a method for natural weed control.
After the visit, discussions on drought-resilience continued later that evening over a networking dinner with the DAFF team and other key stakeholders in the Mackay region.
The following morning, they headed to Collinsville to Colinta Holdings’ Havilah Station, to see examples of recovery works on significantly degraded land and bare soil erosion that was identified through a community-based mentoring program.
Drought Resilience Coordinator for Node partner NQ Dry Tropics, Marc McConnell explained to the group about the work that’s occurring as well as the future aspirations for building drought resilience in the Collinsville region.
Laura Smith said the road trip provided a wonderful opportunity for the DAFF team to see first-hand the key projects being supported by the TNQ Drought Hub.
“It was really great to see how the Drought Hub is working on the ground, and to meet with stakeholders in the area,” said Ms Smith.
Dr David Phelps said they were thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase some innovative approaches and solutions to drought-resilience in the region.
“It was great to be able to bring the DAFF team on-site to witness the innovative projects in our region that are dedicated to enhancing drought resilience,” said Dr Phelps.
“It also offered a great opportunity for the landholders to connect with members of the DAFF team. The discussions were in-depth and provided a valuable chance for those one-on-one interactions and productive exchanges of knowledge and experiences.
“We’re extremely grateful to the DAFF representatives for joining us on this road trip and we hope to be able to plan other ones in the future.”
Thank you to our Node partners, Reef Catchments and NQ Dry Tropics for their support.