Communities in drought-stricken New South Wales (NSW) celebrated Sunday after the arrival of desperately-needed rain, with some towns witnessing the most significant rainfall since 2012.
Up to 100 milliliters of rain fell in parts of the state, filling up depleted rivers and dams. The town of Bourke in northern NSW welcomed 94 milliliters across the weekend, marking the only rain since July and the largest sole rainfall in seven years.
According to the ABC, water is now pouring over the Bourke Weir for the first time in 483 days.
Hundreds of residents took to social media to marvel the wet weather.
Bourke resident Laura Gordon used Facebook to share images of herself running through the downpour.
"I was sitting in the shed out at my dad's property early this afternoon just listening to the well-deserved rain we've been desperately praying for hitting the tin shed roof,” she wrote. “And, of course, I couldn't resist the urge to go running around in it, so off went the boots. God's finally heard our prayers.”
Likewise, in a now-viral clip, Bourke local Oliver Gordon shared videos of his father, Andrew, diving into flooded paddocks.
"Eighty-four milliliters of rain and counting at West Mooculta Station here in Bourke,” he said. “Dad absolutely over the moon with the rain and … the relief this will bring. I haven't seen a smile like this for a long time on him. The drought will not be over until the fat cows can't be seen for grass, but this much-needed rain will certainly bring some much-needed relief and smiles across the country.”
While the rain has been hugely celebrated, residents and politicians believe much more is needed to end the drought for good.
"This is great. But one downpour doesn't end the drought; it doesn't solve the problem in the drought-stricken communities," Deputy Prime Minister Micheal McCormack told reporters Monday. "It has settled the dust. It's going to top up some dams. A bit of a green sheet across those very dry areas, but it's not going to solve the drought.”
"The drought is going to take many months and indeed years to recover from,” he added.
Climate change is accelerating the frequency of heatwaves in Australia, a 2018 report from the Climate Council shows.
"Climate change is likely making drought conditions in southwest and southeast Australia worse,” the report states. “Climate change is also driving an increase in the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia, exacerbating drought conditions.”
With the drought covering 99.6% of NSW, there have been fears over the health and well-being of rural individuals. A recent report by UNICEF Australia shows the climate crisis largely hinders farming families from making a living. Rural children, meanwhile, are facing mounting pressures without appropriate mental health support.
Despite the recent rainfall, the Bureau of Meteorology shows below-average rain in NSW for the remainder of November.