A record-breaking and continuous winter downpour has caused an explosion of colour in the Australian outback, with country from Coober Pedy in South Australia to Toowoomba in Queensland green and dotted with wildflowers.
The Department of Agriculture’s Jenny Milson said it was the best display in decades.
“In terms of the flowers being in profusion like this and in such a large area, it would have to be close on the 30-year mark,” she said.
“The interesting thing is, we do see the odd one of these wildflowers every few years, but what we haven’t [had] before is the profusion that we’re seeing.
“But [this year] we’ve had four months of this beautiful green and colourful season.”
However, the wildflowers are not just pretty to look at — they actually serve a more practical purpose, providing shade that slows evaporation rates, allowing more water to seep into the ground.
This will help grasses and stock feeds grow as the area struggles to recover from four years of drought.
“They are going to provide good coverage and good protection and help water get into the soil better when we get summer rain,” Ms Milson said.
“Then we can get some of the grasses coming back as well, the Mitchell Grass in particular, which really holds this landscape together.”
Good season welcome after drought
The winter rain has been welcomed by the outback community, which has suffered from an extended drought.
Grazier and scenic tour pilot Phil Owens said it had put a smile on everyone’s faces.
“This season has been pretty amazing,” he said.
“You can’t really explain it. It’s been so refreshing, after this long drought, to get this winter rain.
“Everyone is sort of feeling phew, we’ve had some rain.”
Mr Owens said the wet weather and cooler temperatures meant the tourist season had run longer, with people making the trip out to see the Channel Country in flood.
“The inland river system, when they get this … rain, just responds. It’s just green, green everywhere,” he said.
“You get a variety of the greens. You don’t know there is so many colours of green, but there is probably half a dozen different greens, plus you get the reds with the sand dunes. It’s pretty amazing.”
Mr Owens’ visitors have been surprised by the Channel Country, saying the beauty of the river systems was underrated.
Pat Wells, holidaying from Sydney with her husband, said the country was so green, it was unbelievable.
“It was so different to anything I’ve ever seen before, with all the little channels running here, there, everywhere,” she said.
“It just went on and on, and it was just amazing.”