Skip to main content

Heavy rains bring stunning changes to Western Australia's remote desert landscapes

Sunset over a suddenly teeming creek near Warburton, Western Australia.
Heavy summer rains leave the desert landscape across the Ngaanyatjarra Lands teeming with life.

Supplied: JLB Photos, Jody Brown

A photographer working in one of Western Australia's most remote communities has captured the stunning change to the desert landscape brought about by summer rain.

Aerial view of the landscape surrounding Warburton, Western Australia.
Shot from a drone over Christmas, these aerial photos highlight the change in the landscape around Warburton over 12 months.

Supplied: JLB Photos, Jody Brown

While a tropical low over the Pilbara has brought significant rain across Western Australia over the past week, the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and other parts of the northern Goldfields have experienced a particularly wet summer.

Jody Brown has lived in Warburton, 1,000km north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, for around eight years, but said he had never seen the town wetter.

"It's the greenest I've ever seen it, the grass is so long everywhere," Mr Brown said.

"There are animals and wildlife and all sorts of things everywhere."

Heavy rain brings growth and challenges

While the 240mm of rain over December and January has made transport and resupply tricky for residents of Warburton and surrounding communities, the most noticeable change has been to the normally dry landscape.

"We first noticed the change around Christmas and the New Year," Mr Brown said.

New growth dominates the landscape around Warburton, Western Australia.
Warburton photographer Jody Brown says it is the greenest he has ever seen the normally dry landscape.

Supplied: JLB Photos, Jody Brown

The photographer shot most of his images from a drone, making it easier to access some of the heavily-bogged terrain, as well as escaping the increasingly humid conditions.

"You can go out during the hottest part of the day and run the drone from the car, so it's pretty handy," Mr Brown said.

"It's good to show how green it has got and the comparisons between now and then as well."

Image of a creek flowing in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Western Australia
The rain has left normally dry creeks and waterholes full to the brim.

Supplied: JLB Photos, Jody Brown

Wet weather a mixed blessing for stations

While the heaviest fronts have struck the northern Goldfields, the wet weather has been felt across the entire region.

Pastoralist Rod Campbell said they had received around 50mm of rain over two days at Kybo Station, 505km east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder on the Nullarbor.

"I've been here for 50 years, and there are parts flooded here that I've never seen flooded," Mr Campbell said.

Grass growing in the far northeast of the WA Goldfields after rain.
The changes to the landscape are noticeable from the ground as much as from the air.

Supplied: JLB Photos, Jody Brown

Transport, again, looms as the key post-rain issue, with his family and staff reliant on weekly supply drops from the Indian Pacific, with the Trans-Australia rail line running along the station border.

"The trans-access road is our only way into town, and we've got a dirt road for 140km before we get onto any sort of reasonable road," Mr Campbell said.

A storm front over the remote community of Tjuntjuntjara.
The rain has struck every part of the WA Goldfields, with this shot taken at Tjuntjuntjara, 560km east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Supplied: Kevan French

Pests could become a problem after rains

Further north, Patrick Hill runs Mount Weld Station, around 100km from Laverton.

He said the 170mm that had fallen on the region was more than welcome, but he would be keeping an eye out for pests.

While the rain will likely deter feral camels, which have plagued the station during previous dry periods, he said the wet weather could see wild dogs on the move.

A street left flooded by rain in Coolgardie, Western Australia
The rain left streets flooded across the Goldfields.

Supplied: Clint Milne

"This is where you've got to be on the ball with baiting, straight after the rain," Mr Hill said.

"Once you get a bit of rain, the wild dogs are on the move looking for new homes."

He said he had received reports of above-average rain all the way from Laverton to Alice Springs, with some communities flooded in by the wet weather.

"It's certainly made a huge difference to the country," Mr Hill said.