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First rain for toddler

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· Rain arrives as Abbott begins drought tour

The joy and excitement on Georgina Ritchie’s face was palpable.

As the bubbly one-year-old stood in the woolshed on Jandra station, near Bourke in western NSW, she was seeing rain for the first time.

Her dad, local businessman Ben Ritchie, was equally excited, but for a different reason.

It was the first significant rain to hit drought-stricken Bourke for two years.

Business in town is quiet when farmers spend dawn until dusk watering and feeding what is left of their sheep and cattle, or shooting stock not possible to save.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott – today’s guest at the Jandra woolshed where Georgina stared in wonder – played second fiddle to the rain.

But he was OK with that.

The PM was told stories of wild dogs running rampant and killing sheep, and farmers struggling to pay bills and running up deep debts.

In Longreach, there were also stories of churches and community groups paying for fodder drops and food parcels, and dreams of opening new tourist ventures.

Some forgot about their troubles as they laughed at the story of Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce having to help Parkes MP Mark Coulton get his bogged car out of the mud after the Abbott shindig.

But most of the talk was about the rain, and whether it was a one-off or a sign of things to come – a sign that Georgina and her family can look forward to a brighter future.

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