3 March 2022

Local landowners open their gates for flooded-out livestock

| James Coleman
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Man in doorway

Darrell Bossley at his home at Black Flat. Photo: Alex Rea.

After days of flooding rain and with another sopping wet week predicted, many southeast residents are watching rising rivers with mounting concern for their homes, farms and livestock.

But help is at hand, with several locals opening up their land as sanctuaries for those animals that may end up stuck in low-lying areas in the coming days.

LouEllen Anderson runs the Miss U Motel cattery on a five-acre block of land in Springrange, just over the ACT border near Hall. It’s described as a “quiet country holiday home for cats”.

She says there’s no fear of flooding there, but when she heard a severe flood watch had been issued for Queanbeyan, she put out a call on a local Facebook noticeboard, offering Miss U Motel as a safe space for displaced livestock.

“We’ve previously helped out with flood and fire relief, donating stuff and driving around. During the drought, we drove up to near Cowra with a ute and trailer full of food.”

She says the post has received plenty of love, but no expressions of interest yet.

Stone gateway and palm tree

The handmade stone gateway to Black Flat on the Kings Highway. Photo: Alex Rea.

Further afield, Nelligen’s ‘castle’ Black Flat is also opening its gates to flooded-out horses.

The owners Darrell and Lisa Bossley also put out a call on a local Facebook noticeboard in light of the “huge deluge we are expecting”.

“So far, I haven’t had a single call for help,” Darrell says.

“We were expecting over 200 mm of rain last night, but we only had 70. But because the ground is so wet now, any more rain will definitely see the floods come up.

“I also think people have received enough warning they are beginning to get their livestock up to higher ground. But I put it out there that some people don’t have higher ground. If they have a horse float, they can bring them here; if they haven’t, I’ll pick them up.”

A flooded campsite at Nelligen.

A flooded campsite at Nelligen last year. Photo: Facebook.

He says flooding has never been a problem for Black Flat, 10 km out of Nelligen and 6 km from the bottom of Clyde Mountain, even when bucketing rain a few months ago turned the local BIG4 holiday park into a swamp.

“Everything is mud, but we’re high enough the flood is not going to worry us.”

It isn’t the first time Darrell and other locals have opened up their land to horses in their hour of need.

“I worry about the horses. I’ve had to shoot too many during the fires and I don’t like to see them being hurt,” he says.

During the devastating Black Summer bushfires, Darrell was run off his feet for weeks, collecting stranded horses and fighting localised fires. There were no fewer than 20 horses on his land at any one time between December 2019 and January 2020.

“Some of them were burned and we were treating them, others would come in here before being moved somewhere else,” he says.

Lady and man on horses wearing medieval clothing

Darrell and Lisa Bossley on horseback at a medieval event. Photo: Dana Russo Photography.

He says several owners suffered burns and smoke inhalation while desperately trying to save their animals.

“People were just relieved their horses were safe. People can think and get out of problems, but their horses are stuck in paddocks and can’t. I have a lot more sympathy for horses than people. The animals are more helpless; they rely on us to help them.”

Darrell and Lisa bought the property in 1984 and since then, Black Flat has earned a name for itself as ‘The Castle’. Fitting, given Darrell’s passion for the medieval.

The former blacksmith has been into martial arts and weaponry for 50 years, before taking up the ancient art of jousting at the tender age of 68. He makes his own armour on-site and his paddocks are often set up with hurdles and targets.

But above all, there’s a deep love for horses. The couple breeds Friesians, famous for their part to play in medieval warfare for the Dutch.

“Not a common horse but an exotic and very nice horse. These are the ones I use for competition,” Darrell says.

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Sylvia Bryant8:34 am 05 Mar 22

I love the generosity of people in hard times. This couple is really special congratulations and also for running a “cat motel”.

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