DOWN SHE COMES: Muddy waterfalls raged at Eungella at the weekend.
DOWN SHE COMES: Muddy waterfalls raged at Eungella at the weekend. Tess Ford

Community throws support behind farm after devastating blow

FIELDS of delicious, red fruit filled just about every corner of Ballantyne's Strawberry Farm last week.

But today, seven workers will roll up their sleeves and spend hours removing rotten berries after more than 150mm of rain flooded the farm.

The wet weather event delivered a devastating blow to the Camerons Pocket business, which had only reopened to the public for the 2019 season on June 20.

After a hard day in the fields yesterday, owner Margarert Ballantyne planned to work late into the night.

She said it would take weeks for the farm to recover from the flooding.

"We have lost all of our berries, the fields have been flooded,” she said.

"It is terrible, no one can come out and my people are out there in the field... they have been out there all day pulling off buckets and buckets of rubbish.

"We had had this happen before, that is why we quit. We quit in 2016 because there were three major rain events.

"It's tragic. School holidays is when we make our money, it pays for our plants. It might take three weeks to get back on our feet, maybe longer.”

In the wake of the weather event, the wider Mackay community has thrown its support behind Ballantyne's.

On Saturday afternoon, a post on the farm's Facebook page advertising 1kg bags of frozen strawberries for sale garnered a huge response.

"We have had a marvellous response,” Mrs Ballantyne said.

"We are selling bags of frozen strawberries (by order) at the Greater Whitsunday Farmer's Markets on Wednesday. I have done 36kg already and I need more than 100kg. People have been marvellous. We aren't taking any more orders.”

Camerons Pocket was not the only area to receive flooding rain over the weekend, with Eungella and Crediton recording upwards of 200mm.

Decked out in gumboots and a raincoat, Eungella Chalet manager Tess Ford ventured out into the wet on Saturday to capture incredible photos of flooding in the area and raging waterfalls on the range road.

As at yesterday afternoon, Mrs Ford had recorded 254mm at the Chalet - and it was still coming down hard.

She said while that amount of rain was normal for a wet season, it was rare to see it in the middle of winter.

"I haven't seen it like this in probably 10 years. We had 82mm overnight Saturday,” Mrs Ford said.

"I went past Netherdale yesterday and just the amount of water on the side of the road was like wet season stuff. Broken River was definitely roaring.” She said despite the rain, 70 people passed through the Chalet for lunch.

"We would normally do well over 100, so a big thank you to the 70 that came up,” she said.

At the Eungella Chemical Free Garlic farm, Eloise Crowther was keeping a close eye on her crop after a 210mm soaking.

"We have not long planted one of our paddocks so we need some serious, sun and dry for it to thrive now. We don't want it rotting in the ground,” Mrs Crowther said.

"We have one paddock that is pretty well established and should be OK, it is pretty resilient stuff.”

She hoped this year would not be a repeat of the 2010 weather event which wiped her entire crop out.


Saturday 5.30pm - Sunday 5.30pm

  • Upper Finch Hatton: 194mm
  • Clarke Range: 175mm
  • Eungella: 141mm
  • Finch Hatton Showgrounds: 73mm
  • Teemburra Creek: 54mm
  • Mt Jukes: 70mm
  • Paget: 29mm
  • Mackay: 12mm
  • Sucrogen Weir: 32mm
  • Koumala: 8mm
  • Carmila: 17mm