“Once again, the extraordinary power of Mother Nature has been on full display in Eastern Australia. There is a saying in Australia that “every big drought ends in a big flood” and therefore we should have perhaps anticipated that the record-breaking drought that ended in our main growing regions in early 2020 has been followed by a once in a century flood.
The crop was looking very good prior to the huge rain event we have just experienced. Somewhere beside that 3 F sign under all that water (picture below) is a crop similar to the one our Main Camp farm manager was standing in on the right!
The 3F photo was taken by one of our employees from his kayak. He said it was a tricky paddle adventure as snakes and spiders were desperate for a dry surface to get onto and he had a couple of “exciting’ encounters! The good news is that the larger animals such as kangaroos and emus were able to find higher ground on the farm to wait out the flood.
The rain had been relentless with the worst affected area being the Port Macquarie area where we have 3 farms.
This chart says it all but at the height of the rainstorm 450mm (~18 inches) of rain fell in 3 days; rivers burst and crops flooded.
Our distillery suffered some damage, as it was submerged for the best part of a week. The clean up has begun and we expect to have everything up and running to the high standards we expect before the start of harvest in Port Macquarie in late May / early June. Our Port Macquarie team have endured a very tough few weeks and are now lifting themselves and getting on with the cleanup – both at their homes and the farm. We are providing support to the team from our other properties.
The picture on the left is of our Heritage farm on the north bank of Port Macquarie. Our tea tree crop is visible on the left of the picture.
The flood went right over the top of the crop at our Limeburners plantation. Our manager – Barry – paddled on top of the crop and the gates at the height of the flood! Here you can see the entrance gates and whilst the water is receding there is still a long way to go.
The Northern Rivers area, where our Main Camp property and most of our satellite farms are located, was quite severely impacted as well. The diagram below shows how quickly the river that is a border of our Main Camp property rose.
However, it was an unusual flood, as most areas that usually go underwater, weren’t as affected. Most of the low-lying fields were submerged. However, most of the infrastructure was spared. We still have a tough job ahead of us in cleaning all of the affected equipment so we can resume our day-to-day activities.
As per our Maria River plantation, our mid-April scheduled harvest is now on hold until further notice.
Luckily tea tree likes wet feet and whilst we have a massive clear up ahead of us and our Port Macquarie crops will have been negatively impacted, we believe that we have probably been spared extensive damage in the Northern Rivers. Once we are able to assess the extent of the damages from the submerged trees, we will have a better understanding on the outcome of this year’s crop. We will then be able to schedule our harvest as well as our yield prediction.
The above is based solely on our properties, and we therefore will not comment on the damages incurred by other producers. However, the floods did not spare anyone living between the mid north coast of NSW to Brisbane, which is well past the far North Coast of NSW. The industry body, ATTIA, will make a fair assessment of the damages in due course and pass the information onto all members. We will then be able to have a more accurate picture of what awaits us for this season.
Thank you all for your support! As always, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.”