A lone tree stands near a water trough in a drought-affected paddock on Jimmie and May McKeown's property located on the outskirts of town of Walgett, in New South Wales, Australia, 20 July 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS

2 August 2018 (BBC News) – Parts of eastern Australia are suffering their worst drought in living memory as a lack of rainfall in winter hits farms badly.

Reuters photographer David Gray captured the view of the dried earth from the air, finding an often surprising collage of colours. […]

About 98 percent of New South Wales is drought-stricken, and two-thirds of neighbouring Queensland. As a result, farmers are having to order in food for their livestock, which raises their costs considerably. […]

Farmer Ash Whitney stands in the middle of a dried-up dam in a drought-affected paddock on his property located west of the town of Gunnedah in New South Wales, Australia, 3 June 2018. 'I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while,' said Whitney. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS

This photo shows a dried-up dam near Gunnedah in New South Wales. The government's aid for drought-hit farmers has now topped A$1bn (£564m; $738m). "I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while," farmer Ash Whitney said.

Parts of Australia saw the second warmest summer on record between December and February, and the country as a whole saw its driest July since 2002. […]

While touring the worst-hit areas in June, PM Malcolm Turnbull said there was a clear link to climate change. "I don't know many people in rural New South Wales that I talk to that don't think the climate is getting drier and rainfall is becoming more volatile." [more]

In pictures: Australia's drought seen from the air


A kangaroo drinks from a water tank located in a drought-affected paddock on farmer Ash Whitney's property, located west of the town of Gunnedah in north-western New South Wales, in Australia, 3 June 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS

By David B Gray
31 July 2018   

GUNNEDAH, Australia (Reuters) – From ground level, Australia’s drought looks like a featureless, brown dustbowl, but from the air it transforms into an artistry of color and texture as the land cracks under a blazing sun.

Circular dry plow tracks resemble the concentric circles in Aboriginal dot paintings that tell of an ancient mythology, starving cattle queuing for feed look like an abstract painting and their black shadows stretching across the land a surrealist image.

But for farmer Ash Whitney, there is no such beauty, just blood, sweat and tears as he struggles to feed his cattle, cutting the drying branches of Kurrajong trees - a last resort during the worst of droughts.

“I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while,” says a despairing Whitney, whose property near the town of Gunnedah is on the Liverpool Plains, a usually fertile area now withered having received the lowest average rainfall in nearly 30 years.

The worst drought in living memory is sweeping parts of eastern Australia, leaving farmers struggling to cope and many of them asking questions about the future. […]

A windmill and solar panels stand next to a dam in a drought-effected paddock on farmer Scott Cooper's property named South Park located east of the town of Gunnedah, in New South Wales, Australia, 21 July 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS

A quarter of Australia’s agricultural production by value is grown in NSW and the state government has offered more than A$1 billion in emergency funding to farmers. It announced the latest tranche - A$500 million - on July 30.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says parts of Australia experienced the second-warmest summer (December-February) on record and have just been through one of the driest and warmest autumns (March-May) on record.

And the dry spell, which has left more than 95 percent of NSW in drought, according to Department of Primary Industries, has no end in sight. [more]

Australia’s drought is like a cancer eating away at farms and families

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