By Penelope Barker
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Sydney
Massive flooding throughout south-eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales looks set to devastate a large portion of the Australian olive oil industry. The situation, which is still deteriorating, is Australia’s worst natural disaster. Amanda Bailey, Queensland director of the Australian Olive Association, is trapped by flood waters on her hill-top property near Toowoomba, in south-east Queensland, and has been unable to contact growers in the region as yet to ascertain the seriousness of the situation.
“It’s not a good situation at all,” reports Bailey. “We can’t drive anywhere, there
are no shops selling food and there will be no fuel for at least two weeks. There’s been a community collection of toys, clothing and bedding and a Red Cross truck is on its way to pick it all up. We’re also looking after our neighbours’ children while they work on the emergency effort.”
The Queensland olive oil industry is in its infancy, with well over one million young trees about to produce their most abundant harvest. “This year was supposed to be the bumper crop – there was just so much fruit on the trees,” says Bailey. “I know of one producer who had 50,000 kilos of fruit in his grove. He has lost the lot and will probably lose the whole grove due to water-logging. Fortunately, the grove manager survived. Even producers whose groves survive will have lost their harvest, equipment, sheds and possibly their homes.”
Bailey, who is managing director of The Olive Centre, a specialist supplier of olive industry equipment and machinery, has also been attempting to contact growers in the flood-affected Northern Rivers region of New South Wales with no success. “They’re a close knit group,” says Bailey, “and hopefully they will pull through this crisis.”
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Meanwhile the crisis continues as more than 86 communities, from small towns to major regional centres, lie underwater or destroyed by flash floods that swept all in their path. Even the Queensland capital, Brisbane, has been inundated. In all, more than 200,000 people have been directly affected, across an area the size of the state of New South Wales.
“It’s just so widespread,” says Bailey. “And it’s not over yet.” The disaster now
even threatens the Great Barrier Reef.
If you wish to donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal, the account details for donations are:
Account Name: Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
BSB: 064 013
Account number: 1000 6800
SWIFT code for international donations: CTBAAU2S
Cheques should be made payable to:
The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
ABN: 69 689 161 916 and be posted to:
Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
C/O Department of the Premier and Cabinet
PO Box 15185
City East QLD 4002 Australia
This is a developing story. Return here for updates.