Australia has had its second-driest January-to-April period ever – and despite the approach of winter, April was warmer than March.
The rainfall total only just beat the record for the four months set in 1965 when it totalled just 5.8 inches.
The Bureau of Meteorology figures also showed the first four months of 2005 were the hottest on record.
It all added up to bad news for Australian farmers still trying to recover from the drought two years ago that is described as the worst since European settlement.
There were record low rainfalls in central Australia, northwest New South Wales and southern Queensland.
“Large regions in southern and eastern Australia continue to experience deficiencies for periods longer than two years indicating that there is still to be a full recovery from the very dry conditions experienced during the 2002-03 El Nino event,” the bureau said.
"We have never seen such sustained below-average rainfall in southern Victoria as has been seen over the past eight years," a Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre spokesman said.
"Generally speaking, we are looking at rainfall declines in the April-to-July period in the order of 20-to-25 percent over the past 50 years," the spokesman said.
Across the country between 60 and 70 percent of the productive farmlands are in drought declared areas.