Bedgerabong is only 30km west of Forbes, but this time last year had been cut off by road for months with the Lachlan River at moderate and major flood levels.
The inches of rain that fell on November 13, 2022, causing such devastation across the central west, saw floodwaters rise yet again - to levels unlike anything those who call this beautiful community home and farm the surrounding landscape have seen. It wasn't until mid-December that the first road from Forbes was able to reopen to general traffic.
By February the small but busy Bedgerabong Public School was in full swing and the community was throwing open the gates to welcome hundreds of visitors to the popular annual picnic race meeting, mid-year they hosted their pig industry education day and stud sale, come August we enjoyed the "best little show in the west".
With all the community news it was only right that one year on from the peak of the flooding, we went back to visit some of the farms on the floodplain to talk about the year that has been.
The contrast could hardly be more stark.
In November 2022 the district was saturated. Forbes airport recorded 997.8mm for the year, following a 1052.2mm soaking in 2021, and 403mm in Spring alone.
Until storms delivered up to four inches of rain to the shire in the last week of November 2023, the year's rainfall only totalled 281.2mm and only 37mm of that had fallen in the Spring months.
In November 2022 Murray Brown and Andrew Barnard spent more than 36 hours working side by side to raise levee banks to save the last bit of the Browns' land - with the house on it - from inundation. Water had already been spilling from the Lachlan River onto Glamis for four months.
"All that unmeasured water that came from Parkes - it was phenomenal," Murray said. "Where the river water met the Parkes water it just stopped. It was 800mm to a metre deep on the road and it was stagnant, it wasn't running."
Andrew is the captain of Yarrangong Rural Fire Service brigade and was working with both RFS volunteers and the army to fill and airdrop sandbags to properties in the district.
Andrew was flown to Bedgerabong showground to work on flood response in early November, then back into Forbes to support efforts through major flooding there, then finally back to Bedgerabong.
Flying over the flooded landscape, he could see those with earthmoving equipment working around the clock on property protection.
Defence airlifted sandbags, filled by volunteers at the showground, to those who needed them.
Twelve months on, Murray and Andrew are building a shed together in a landscape that's dry enough to make the memories of last year almost inconceivable.
The extremes, Murray says, have made this the toughest year of his farming career, the focus has been on keeping their livestock numbers and getting their pasture and cropping rotations reestablished.
The Browns run a mixed sheep and cropping enterprise including their Border Leicester Stud, and in November 2022 their sheep were airlifted from the property as floodwaters from the swollen Lachlan River and local creeks overwhelmed their levee banks.
Their livestock were safely agisted and they're back on property now, but the scale of the flooding has essentially left "Glamis" a clean slate.
"Our whole farming program was reset last year as far as pasture rotations, cropping rotations," Murray said.
With low rainfall through the winter cropping season, his focus has turned to getting the first of the lucerne stands established - and summer rains will be very welcome for that this season.
HARVESTING AT WATTLE BOWER
The header is on the wheat crop at Wattle Bower, just a couple of kilometres away.
The loss of pastures to floodwater has been the biggest issue for Tom and Melissa Brown - that and controlling the lippia weed that has appeared everywhere the water was.
"Every bit of flood country had to be worked twice (to control the weed)," Melissa said.
Wattle Bower has been in the Brown family since the 1880s and the house was built on country historically known to be high and dry - it was reduced to less than 100 acres at the flood peak in November 2022.
Their stock were safe on high spots, and they spent the next couple of months feeding them.
The other big task of the past 12 months has been fencing, which needed to be stood up and straightened out after the volume of water that came through.
Melissa will be forever grateful to the volunteers from Blaze Aid who came to help with that work.
Despite this year's dry conditions there was enough moisture in the ground to establish this year's winter crops, and they felt very fortunate to be bringing in that harvest.
HARD TO BELIEVE
Looking across the landscape now, neighbour Anne Earney finds it hard to believe it was all under water this time last year.
She is at work with her spray drone: mapping paddocks and using the technology to navigate weed control in tricky country and irrigation channels.
In November 2022 the family was flat out protecting the house as unprecedented volumes of creek water arrived on their property at the same time as the flooded Lachlan River crossed the landscape.
The sheep had found one little dry spot, and their cattle had met up with the neighbours on a sandhill. They had to get the kayak out to go see anyone.
But as the water went down they did go on - over long and boggy weeks - to harvest some crop where the heads had stayed above water.
You look at it now and go "how could it have been like that?" Anne says.
WARMER, BUT MORE 'NORMAL' SUMMER
The latest from the Bureau of Meteorology is that we could see more "average" rainfall for large areas of Eastern Australia this Summer.
"The forecasts suggested the chance of average rainfall for parts of the east towards the end of spring and early summer, and we have seen some decent rainfall in November to finish off the spring season," Bureau of Meteorology National Manager climate services Dr Karl Braganza said at the start of December.
"Compared to outlooks issued mid-year, the dry signal has continued to ease across the eastern half of the continent outside of the tropics."
El Nino is predicted to continue over summer when its influence varies across the continent, but most of the continent does have an increased chance of temperatures possibly in the top 20 per cent of records.
Dr Braganza said the dry and warm conditions over much of spring along with the warm summer forecast were still contributing to an elevated fire risk this summer.
"This summer all communities across Australia are urged to prepare for bushfire and monitor local conditions," he said.
- Renee Powell