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1,000 sheep to be winched to safety ahead of major flooding at Forbes



A tree in a flooded paddock in front of a hill.


Preparations are underway to rescue 1,000 sheep that were stranded in Forbes in west central New South Wales before major flooding was predicted.

The ewes and lambs were stranded in a pen which is slowly filling with floodwater from the nearby Lachlan River.

Farmer Warren Bailey has owned the property for around 18 months and said he was confident the sheep would be safe in this particular pen.

He said he’s been trying to move them to higher ground for the past few weeks, but the wild weather hasn’t helped.

“We are very concerned that it is now at the stage where it could break through the banks, especially since these sheep have been camping on the banks of the dike probably for the last three weeks due to seepage. , Mr. Bailey said.

“The paddock of around 100 hectares is probably down to three or four hectares now due to seepage.”

An aerial view of a flooded country town.
Forbes has been inundated for weeks.(ABC Central West: Hugh Hogan)

Bring in the helicopters

Wet conditions mean the sheep cannot get out of the paddock.

A call has been made for help to find other ways to bring the ewes and their lambs to higher ground.

Mr. Bailey said he was working with local land departments and the state emergency service, which on Thursday arranged to bring two helicopters to safety to winch the sheep.

“We are currently looking at having a helicopter or two helicopters at this stage, with a possible backup of a few boats if we can find them,” he said.

SES volunteers in a boat on a river.
According to farmer Warren Bailey, SES boats may also be needed to bring livestock to safety.(Provided: Trout Herring)

Mr Bailey said he understood the helicopters would use crates to transport around 20 to 30 animals at a time.

“They practically only have to go 600 meters to a kilometer,” he said.