The mob at Angepena station, in SA’s northern Flinders Ranges, takes the long dry in its stride.

Story Gretel Sneath  Photos Robert Lang

The sun is slowly rising over Angepena Rock, casting its warm glow across the baked red earth surrounding the homestead. The sound of bleating sheep breaks the early morning silence as a small mob of ewes and lambs take dainty steps along the dry creek bed behind the shearers’ quarters, searching for green pick and fallen gum leaves among the pebbles.

Last February, the Frome River was awash, with 43mm of rain blocking road access for several days. Angepena station owner, Tony Nicholls, says it had been bone dry for nearly four years prior to that freak summer downpour. “We had good winter rains in 2016 and we were lambing at 122%, which is unheard of, and then someone turned the tap off,” he says. 

The tap has only just been turned back on – albeit briefly. In mid-September, Angepena recorded 50mm in 24 hours, with October bringing some welcome follow-up. In the long years between these rare rain events, it’s taken bucket-loads of optimism and an eye-wateringly expensive feed bill to get by.

This story excerpt is from Issue #134

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2021