Flooding is cutting off farmers and towns in western NSW, with more rain expected

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Three straight years of above-average rainfall are taking their toll on western New South Wales, with some residents warning they could face isolation and flooding for days ahead in the face of a wet summer ahead.

Some parts of western NSW received almost a quarter of their annual rainfall in one night.

Fall of 100 millimeters or more soaked an area around Trundle and Tullamore, southwest of Dubbo.

The region has an annual average rainfall of about 450 mm to 500 mm, according to Bureau of Meteorology data.

After two years of significant and sometimes record rainfall, a string of currently flooded rivers meant the latest downpour had nowhere to go.

On Julia Beveridge’s farm between Tullamore and Narromine, two swollen creeks and overland streams saw the water come close to overtopping a three-metre-high dike bank that protects her house.

She is away for surgery and could only contact her adult daughter, teenage son and sister as the flood crept higher.

Ms Beveridge said her “children were terrified” but it was also “terrifying not to be there”.

They called the State Emergency Services for help and were brought to safety by the Rural Fire Service.

Four people with headphones on walk up a small bank to a red and white helicopter.
Emergency services evacuated Julia Beveridge’s farm after floodwaters began threatening to topple a levee bank.(Provided: NSW Rural Fire Service)

“Everything is replaceable. They [her family] can’t,” she said.

Ms Beveridge said if the water rose higher, which was still a possibility, her house and cars could go under, as well as the wool shed where her dogs were sheltered.

Her sheep have not yet been found.

“I don’t even know where they are. I couldn’t tell you,” she said.

“The entire 1,750-acre property is underwater.

“I’m not looking forward to going home.”

An aerial view of a road covered in brown floodwater and a kayak with two teenagers paddling.
Access to the small community of Trundle has been cut off.(Provided by: Tim Taylor)

Flood turns streets into ‘lake’

A little further south, teenagers William and Nicholas Taylor made the most of flooding in their small town of Trundle by kayaking through streets that looked more like canals.

“It was pretty fun,” said 17-year-old William, while his 15-year-old brother said he would “definitely do it again if we could.”

Locals nicknamed the flood ‘Lake Trundle’ and set up drones to survey the scale of the water.

At Mungery further north, the course looked more like a paddy field, forcing the committee to cancel the annual picnic races.

Aerial view of a waterlogged race track.
The Mungery Picnic Races have been abandoned due to water on the course.(Provided by: Sarah Masonwells)

Parkes Shire Council warned that all roads in and out of the Trundle area were flooded, in some places up to 40 centimeters deep.

The State Emergency Services expects to be able to gain access to the district by this afternoon at the latest.

It has deployed aircraft in the district to help with food, fodder and medical drops over the coming days.

Cold front brings more rain

There have been several flood rescues and calls for help as a result of the rapidly rising water.

SES Southern Zone incident controller Benjamin Pickup said it would be at least another three to four days before the water moved away.

“It’s quite dangerous. It’s very deep in places,” said Mr. Pickup.

He also warned people to remain vigilant as another cold front was expected to bring further rainfall next week.

It is expected to take time to fall back due to the topography, which Parkes Shire Council Mayor Ken Keith described as being like “a court”.

It will move downstream towards the Lachlan River and hit farmland further south.

An aerial view of a city with flooding over the streets.
Trundle residents have woken up to the view of the water.(Provided by: Ashleigh Farrar)

Cr Keith said they recently received approval for natural disaster funding, meaning farmers could access grants of up to $75,000.

“You feel sorry for agriculture at the moment as there are a lot of crops that have not been sown or have been killed by flooding or inundation,” he said.

“What looked like it was going to be another scary year is definitely starting to go out the window.”

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