NT Landholders exhausted with bushfires burning for two months

Eric Barker, 25/10/2023

Fires have been burning across large parts of the Northern Territory for the past two months. Photo: Nicole Hayes

MILLIONS of hectares have been burnt across Northern Australia this year, with many fires still active in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Some fires have been burning for more than a month, stretching the resources of landholders and fire authorities trying to contain them.

Fires in the NT’s Barkly region, which were heading towards the Qld border, have reportedly been contained – however, a huge blaze in the Tanami Desert has started and is heading further north. One manager closer to Katherine said it was likely the property will be fighting the fire in the next fortnight.

Nicole Hayes from Undoolya Station is the chair of the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association’s Alice Springs branch. She said a lot of the fires in the area had been deliberately lit.

“I think out of all the fires, which we are starting to lose track of, only two have been started by lightning strike, most of them have been from people lighting them,” Ms Hayes said.

“You can understand and accept fires that have started from lightning, but when people are lighting up on the side of the road it becomes a bit hard to fathom.”

Bushfires NT has issued a fire ban to many parts of the Territory and the NTCA has been working with the department to make sure the lates information is going out to producers.

Good season goes bad

Many say the situation is comparable to the fires of 2011, where a good season preceded it leaving plenty of fuel on the ground.

Ms Hayes said the family had learnt from the 2011 experience and had been working strategically to make sure their assets are protected.

“A lot of people are helping others out and we have been helping where we can, but I think everyone is getting a bit exhausted,” she said.

“Every other weekend we have been getting a fire and we have barely had a chance to maintain our equipment in-between fires. It is getting very expensive too – we went through 12 tyres one weekend fighting fires, a grader has been burnt and we are lucky no one has been burnt.”

Ms Hayes said she was worried the area might go back into drought after a good season.

“With prices dropping a lot of people have been holding onto animals, so the area is pretty well stocked,” she said.

“I’m worried a lot of areas going to go quickly back into drought, because the area is burnt and there are good stock numbers around.”

Fires still burning in other parts of Australia

Emergency warnings are still in place across parts of Southern Qld, with fires in the Tara and Millmerran regions.

Another blaze is active in Northern WA, over the Great Sandy Desert and to the north.

  • For immediate fire warning contact your fire service or tune into your local ABC radio


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