The Duke and Duchess of Sussex not only got their hands dirty feeding cattle when they visited a drought-stricken farm near Dubbo, but were shocked by the severity of the drought when shown images of dry paddocks in far western NSW.
While touring Mountain View, a fifth generation family farm located about 20 kilometres east of Dubbo, known for stud breeding, sheep rearing and run by the Woodley Family, NSW Drought Coordinator Pip Job explained to the royal couple the current situation of drought that is sweeping the state, and said they where shocked to see the devastating situation in communities further west.
“They didn’t realise the scale of the drought,” Ms Job said.
“I think its fabulous that they’re acknowledging Australia is in the grips of a pretty significant drought event.”
“They were really interested to know what that looks like for the livestock sector, the cropping sector, rural communities, so their interest was very broad.”
“I had a couple of photos from the Western division from a recent visit there and Prince Harry was very interested to see those.”
“It was excellent to see they have a genuine heartfelt interest in what people are feeling at the moment.”
Ms Job also said the couple were very concerned about the mental well-being of farmers and what support was available, which was followed up when he delivered a moving speech in Dubbo’s Victoria Park in which he personally identified with mental challenges faced by farming communities.
While visiting Mountain View seemed picturesque for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Ms Job said she explained the impacts of the green drought and the long journey ahead.
“We are concerned that there is going to be these false breaks, which will give a little bit of rainfall and little bit of growth so there’s this green illusion,” Ms Job said.
“There’s not a lot of feed here, its green, but there’s not a lot of it and its not going to hang on either.”
“We don’t have soil moisture levels that will see grass or plant growth for the long term.
Ms Job said it is concerning that 98 percent of NSW are in a drought category and it’s not summer yet.
“So it’s a major concern and not something to just pass off and think it’s broken here. It’s got a long way to go.”