Wollondilly farmers happy but cautious following rainfall

DELIGHTED: Oakdale farmer Lynette Rideout-Keanelly is pleased to finally see rain fall over the past 24 hours. Picture: Simon Bennett
DELIGHTED: Oakdale farmer Lynette Rideout-Keanelly is pleased to finally see rain fall over the past 24 hours. Picture: Simon Bennett

Rain over the past 24 hours has provided some relief for Wollondilly residents but one local farmer says much more is needed to help ease drought conditions.

Oakdale’s Top 40 Orchard owner Lynette Rideout-Keanelly welcomed the steady rainfall on Thursday but said she wished more rain had fallen.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast up to 50 millimetres of rain to fall across Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly on Thursday and Friday.

Ms Rideout-Keanelly said about 20 millimetres of rain had fallen at her property in the past 24 hours.

However, BOM figures show Thursday’s downpour was the highest daily total in Wollondilly and Camden since March 22.

“It’s not quite the big rain event we hoped for, but it buys us some time,” Ms Rideout-Keanelly said.

“The rain means we don’t need to pump as much water from the dam for now.

“I spoke with other farmers in Wollondilly and some recorded 30mm of rain while the lowest total recorded was 13mm on Thursday.

“This rain will give us a couple of weeks’ relief provided the weather doesn’t get too hot and windy soon.”

It’s not quite the big rain event we hoped for, but it buys us some time.

Lynette Rideout-Keanelly

Ms Rideout-Keanelly said the sight of rain had lifted local farmers’ spirits.

“The rain provides an emotional boost and helps to wash the blues away,” she said.

“But the rainfall has been insignificant from a drought perspective and we’ve still got dry dirt on our property.”

The Oakdale resident said she was worried that people might see the rain and stop donating to drought relief efforts like the Dilly Drought Drive.

“I’m concerned that we’re going into a ‘green drought’, where the grass looks green but we’re still in drought,” Ms Rideout-Keanelly said.

“We’ve had an extended dry period since February 2017 and a lot of farmers are doing it tough.”

Lynette Rideout-Keanelly enjoys standing in her Top 40 Orchard and watching the rain fall.

Lynette Rideout-Keanelly enjoys standing in her Top 40 Orchard and watching the rain fall.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse said this week’s rainfall was caused by a trough developing in western NSW on Wednesday, which moved east towards the coast.

Ms Woodhouse said a low pressure system had also developed over the Australian east coast.

“It’s difficult to predict how much rain will fall because it depends on how the trough and low pressure system develop – they can be finicky,” she said.

The BOM has forecast patchy rain to fall over the weekend and this trend is set to continue until late next week.

Ms Rideout-Keanelly said she hoped the rainfall tally would increase in the coming days.

“We need it to rain continuously for the next few months to get back on track,” she said.

To donate to the Dilly Drought Drive: Name: Lions Club of Tahmoor, BSB: 633 000, account number: 157928458.