On Queensland’s Darling Downs, 30km north of Toowoomba, lies the rural village of Hampton, home to Justin and Kylie Russell and their three children, Marley, 11, Monty, 9, and Fergus, 7. Their acre-and-a-half (0.6ha) property, Thistlebrook, was originally part of a dairy farm that was subdivided back in the 1970s.

This region on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range is not part of subtropical Queensland. According to Justin, it receives around 35 to 45 frosts between March and October. The temperature quite often drops to -5°C and occasionally as low as a rather chilly -8°C.

Springtime is usually dry and the summer months warm to hot — and getting hotter, the Russells have observed. Rainfall is variable but the yearly average is around 1000mm.

Since the disastrous floods of 2010, the

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