Shows bird flight feathers with sun behind
Nankeen night heron over Noonbah wetland, its wings turned copper by the setting sun. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

The Noonbah reaction to climate change

While the rain gauges in Australia’s outback remain empty for longer, some farmers are turning to nature itself to stay on the land.

The absence of seasonal flooding rains that once regularly replenished the land across Australia’s vast channel country is forcing farmers to adapt or perish.

These are the harsh realities of climate change, with increasing numbers of farmers on properties where it hasn’t rained properly for years relying on government hand-outs to survive. And even if they manage to hang on a while longer, there is always the dark spectre of bank foreclosure.

Some are more proactive, implementing innovative ways to remain ‘out back’.

Business model

On a recent road trip through the channel country in south-west Queensland, we camped at a cattle station south of Longreach, where the family’s love of birds and the natural environment is being built into a new business model for their 52,000 ha property.

Big Angus Emmott probably counts himself more a biologist and photographer than farmer these days. And he and wife Karen are well advanced with their dream to convert part of Noonbah Station from cattle to an eco-lodge and birding reserve.

Sun-rise turns Australian bush trees deep red
Sunrise over Noonbah Station, south-west Queensland. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Water containment

A key part of their new land use plan is the protection and containment of dams and seasonal wetlands – making water available to birds and other wildlife in even the driest conditions.

Angus is physically and conversationally ‘robust’, and when we met him over a few wines at their homestead, he was just back (with a severe dose of the flu) from lobbying the Federal Government in Canberra on climate change.

Was it worth the trip? “Apart from [Minister for Energy and Emissions] Angus Taylor’s denial position, we felt there was genuine buy-in to reducing carbon emissions.” Hope he’s right.

The little eagle is one of many good bird species that can be seen at Noonbah. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Over 200 species

All of the images with this piece were shot at Noonbah Station, which has a current bird list of over 200. The property offers camping (watch out for the ant nests), excellent accommodation in the ‘old schoolhouse’ or a 5-bedroom house, tours and photography.

It is a bit off the beaten track but well worth the deviation. You take the turn-off to Lochern National Park about 100km south of Longreach and follow the dirt road (good condition) another 40-odd km through the park to Noonbah.

As their brochure says, it is a place like no other.

(Footnote: In late October, the Emmotts received a special award from the Bureau of Meteorology for providing rainfall reports at 9.00am every day for the past 100 years. Karen Emmott says the gaps between the ‘boom’ years of channel floods are getting longer and longer.)

©Natural Images 2019


©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.


4 thoughts on “REMAINING ‘OUT BACK’

  • Ian Gibson November 13, 2019 at 2:27 PM Reply

    I’ll put this one on my list. Great to see and thanks for the info.

    • Tony Neilson November 18, 2019 at 4:23 PM Reply

      I’m sure you will enjoy what they have to offer. Yes, it was a great coincidental catch-up at Hasties Swamp. I’m off to Christmas and Cocos Keeling Islands in about 10 days. Hope the weather is kind.

  • Beverlie Nelson November 14, 2019 at 7:23 AM Reply

    We have been there as well and just loved it. Karen and Angus were fascinating people to chat with and describe what they were trying to do. Don’t hesitate to have a visit.

  • Tony Neilson November 18, 2019 at 4:26 PM Reply

    Thank you, Beverlie – I hope lots of people make the diversion to Noonbah.

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