IF our drying climate continues, Ballarat could one day be the home of another grape growing region to match the Mornington Peninsula or even the Barossa Valley.
While that might be music to the ears for wine lovers, for farmers the changing climate has meant either you adapt to the new normal or you face an uncertain future.
For three generations, Scott Young's family has worked the land near Fiskville. Farming is in his blood, but even he has realised what is needed in order to not just survive, but thrive on the land.
"I've been on the farm since I left school," Mr Young said.
"In the 1980s and 90s, the climate wasn't too bad then, you had a pretty reliable winter, but the last 10-15 years we've had the dry, milder winters.
"We've changed how we operate. We were a merino property, now it's 50 per cent sheep, 50 per cent grain.
"Traditionally we'd always done a bit of grain, because it was always too wet for anything more, sort of how this year has been. But when it's dryer as it has been over recent years we've increased that to 50 per cent."
Despite a wet weekend where just on 20mm fell on Ballarat, the year still looks like continuing a trend of being dryer than average.
In the past 21 years, Ballarat has seen less than its annual rainfall 18 times.
Another 180mm is required until the end of December, and while it is not beyond the realms of possibility given a wet December last year, it is unlikely we will reach the 686mm needed to record 'average'.
Mr Young said as the climate gets dryer, farms are looking to diversify and it was not beyond the realms of possibility that one day grapes or fruit trees could be dominating the horizon.
"You've just got to be ready and adapt to what we get in the future," Mr Young said.
"At the moment we're comfortable with a grain and sheep enterprise
"Some traditional farmers don't change but then you get the younger farmers coming through looking for latest technology and latest things to do.
"Some are happy to make a small living, younger people like the larger income. Chasing as much as they can and are prepared to adapt."
Mr Young said the farms in the south of the state were incredibly lucky that they were able to adapt, unlike a lot of farmers north of the Great Dividing Range who are at the mercy of the elements.
He said it was incumbent on governments to be proactive when dealing with drought conditions with good policy and forthright preparation and constantly chasing tails when climates change.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) climatologist Lynette Bettio said Ballarat's low rainfall pattern fits in with record low rainfall seen across much of southern Australia in past two decades.
"We've really seen large scale shift in the weather," Ms Bettio said.
"This is part of the shift in known response to global warning, we don't see those frontal systems which we used to rely on for widespread rain.
"If you take out May and in some respects June, it has been a very dry year. You can go all the way back to January, just 4mm that month fell in Ballarat (down from 31.2mm average)."
The BOM 2018 State of the Climate report shows Australia's southern states are in the longest sustained period of dry weather since records began. "The drying trend has been most evident in the southwestern and southeastern corners of the country," the report says.
"Since 1999, this reduction has increased to around 26 per cent. For the southeast of the continent, April to October rainfall for the period 1999 to 2018 has decreased by around 11 per cent when compared to the 1900 to 1998 period.
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