Drought closes Queensland's historic stock routes

Queensland's historic stock routes have closed to graziers for the first time in living memory as severe drought conditions continue.

The state government estimates 58.1 percent of the state remains drought declared, up from 57 percent in July

There is no relief in sight, with rainfall from Cyclone Owen to bypass the south west.

Conditions are so dire, the century-old travelling stock routes known as the 'long paddock' will be closed because there just isn't enough feed there.

The stock route network is mainly used for moving stock, pasture for emergency agistment and long-term grazing as farmers run out of food for animals.

The historic network of reserves for travelling sheep and cattle is also a refuge for endangered flora and fauna, and are rich in indigenous heritage.

There are more than 76,000km of tracks in Queensland alone.

This week, the Murweh Shire Council, 800km west of Brisbane and spanning 40,774sq km has stopped issuing travelling permits and will only allow grazing permits on a case-by-case basis.

Murweh Shire is named after a pastoral run in the area in the 1860s, which ironically was thought to be an Aboriginal word for a waterhole.

Council's Environmental and Health Services Director Richard Ranson told AAP the shire had been in drought for more than seven years and said 'good rain' was vital for the longevity of the stock routes.

"We have had to stop issuing travelling permits because basically there's hardly any feed there," he said.

"If we kept issuing permits, the stock would end up causing damage and if we do get rain, it will take the routes longer to recover."

Mr Ranson said there had been the odd thunderstorm, but it was not enough.

"Some people might fluke a couple of inches, enough to grow some feed, but we are really in the lap of the Gods."

While drought relief funds are available for struggling farmers, the farmers desperately need rain, he said.

The council said it was unsure when the routes would reopen.

"Even if we do get some decent rain there will be some areas of the stock route that are unusable," Mr Ranson said.

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