Disposing of thousands of dead cattle left rotting on western Queensland properties after floodwaters swept through the region could take months.
The bodies of entire herds that died from exposure when monsoonal rains set in lie strewn across muddy paddocks that just last month were parched from drought.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the boggy ground means it could be months before machinery can get in to bury or remove the cattle.
"There is money allocated to help with that disposal, the issue is, no mining equipment, no equipment can get onto those properties because the soil is so damp and wet," she told business leaders at the Queensland Press Club on Tuesday.
"I think that is going to be a crucial issue over the next two to four months. How quickly we can get machinery in to help with that disposal."
Officials are warning anyone who comes into contact with carcasses to cover their hands and feet because the bodies pose a health risk.
Graziers who relied on creeks and streams for a water supply to their homes have turned to other sources amid fears of contamination.
Others had carcasses pulled away from their front doors and gardens as soon as waters began to recede.
They have told of working together to find a solution to the hundreds and thousands of bodies stacked up in paddocks that have begun to sprout green shoots after year of drought.
The government has warned its coffers will take a hit in order to pay for the damage before being reimbursed by the federal government at a later date.
Australian Associated Press