Queensland farmer's 'devastation' at stolen hay bales takes a …

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By Rebeka Powell

About Queensland
Queensland (locally KWEENZ-land, abbreviated as Qld) is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world’s sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).
As of 15 May 2018, Queensland had a population of 5,000,000, concentrated along the coast and particularly in the state’s South East. The capital and largest city in the state is Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. Often referred to as the “Sunshine State”, Queensland is home to 10 of Australia’s 30 largest cities and is the nation’s third-largest economy. Tourism in the state, fuelled largely by its warm climate, is a major industry.
Queensland was first inhabited by Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. The first European to land in Queensland (and Australia) was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606, who explored the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula near present-day Weipa. In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for the Kingdom of Great Britain. The colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip at Sydney; New South Wales at that time included all of what is now Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Queensland was explored in subsequent decades until the establishment of a penal colony at Brisbane in 1824 by John Oxley. Penal transportation ceased in 1839 and free settlement was allowed from 1842.
The state was named in honour of Queen Victoria, who signed on 6 June 1859 Letters Patent separating the colony from New South Wales. Queensland Day is celebrated annually statewide on 6 June. Queensland was one of the six colonies which became the founding states of Australia with federation on 1 January 1901.

Queensland farmer's 'devastation' at stolen hay bales takes a …

About farmer's

A photo taken from Kalbar shows the scene farmers in the Scenic Rim are faced with.
Photo:

A photo taken from Kalbar shows the scene farmers in the Scenic Rim are faced with. (Carlee Roberts: Aratula RFB)

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Queensland farmer's 'devastation' at stolen hay bales takes a …

Map:
Roadvale 4310

As more than 50 fires burn across south-east Queensland, and blazes on the horizon, farmers are still going about their day and battling against the worst drought in a century.

Key points:

  • Cattle farmer Stewart Ashton said he had several of his hay bales stolen
  • Mr Ashton said he could see “fire all around” as he carried out work on his property
  • He said he was concerned farmers in the region would lose livestock

In the Scenic Rim where fires have been burning at Tarome, Stewart Ashton, who is a third-generation cattle farmer, says conditions this year have been harder than any other.

Australia's drought crisis
Full coverage of the crippling dry conditions affecting large swathes of eastern Australia in what some are calling the worst drought in living memory.

“It’s very stressful, all very tiring, it’s the same thing every day just trying to feed your cattle and seeing them not improve is quite frustrating for us,” he said.

“We prepared for a drought like this but didn’t realise it was going to be this severe.

“We have about 300 head of cattle and we cultivate around 120 acres. We probably occupy about 800 acres of land all up.

“Conditions are probably twice as hard this year than last year [and] we did have a difficult period about 12 months ago around this time.

“Because we didn’t have a very good summer and a very dry winter it’s all compounded now to make this season extremely difficult.”

To make matters worse, on Thursday morning Mr Ashton noticed more than a dozen of his hay bales were missing.

Mr Ashton said at least six bales, worth $150 each were stolen from his property this week.
Photo:

Mr Ashton said at least six bales, worth $150 each were stolen from his property this week. (Supplied)

Without them he fears his cattle will starve and is concerned he may not even be able to replace the bales in a month’s time.

“It looks like they came in on Wednesday night and loaded up a ute or two,” he said.

“They are worth about $150 a bale plus to replace. The problem being that if we don’t get rain within the next month then we’ll run out of hay and it could be $200 by then.

“That’s if I could even source some hay.”

Ebor stock losses
Photo:

Hundreds of animals on the NSW North Coast were lost in September’s bushfires. (Supplied, File image)

But unlike your run-of-the-mill opportunistic thefts, Mr Ashton said he thought this was a sign of the problem farmers were currently facing.

“It’s a very depressing thing to have people stealing your hay — it’s like people breaking into your house to steal a bottle of milk,” he said.

“That’s probably how desperate the person is to feed their stock. If somebody broke into your house just to have a glass of milk you’d probably want to give them another glass of milk, you know.

“You feel sorry for them.”

Despite his frustration, Mr Ashton said his focus had shifted to the fire danger and needs of his neighbouring properties.

What to do if bushfire threatens
ABC Emergency has sourced advice from official agencies on how to plan for a bushfire, including preparing a survival kit.

“Right now as we speak there is fire all around us in the distance,” Mr Ashton said.

“But I’m more concerned about my friends and colleagues all around us who may be losing their houses and losing their stock to the fire which is just devastating.

“It’s just emotional because the community in the Scenic, near Boonah and Roadvale where we live, is very close and we stick together and help each other out.

“It’s just sad to see others out there suffering.

“Things are getting pretty grim out here with this wind blowing and I really feel for them people who are in the face of these fires at the moment, it must be so bad for them,” Mr Ashton said.

More on the bushfire emergency:

  • NSW fires destroy at least 150 homes, two people found dead
  • Queensland fires emergency flares up on Sunshine Coast, residents urged to evacuate
  • NSW fires claim the life of Vivian Chaplain from Wytaliba as family pay tribute
  • Fires in NSW caused by delayed monsoons in India, experts say
  • Queensland’s drought-affected farmers continue to work as firefighters battle blazes across south-east

Topics:

drought,

disasters-and-accidents,

rural,

agriculture,

bushfire,

fires,

roadvale-4310,

qld,

australia,

willowbank-4306,

boonah-4310