When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he's still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd.

Bernard was grazing with 100 or so cows on the banks of Lake Buloke, about 120km from Bendigo, when the Richardson River flooded, filling the lake.

The cows went one way and were rescued by their farmer, Graeme Hodge. The Mallee bull went the other way and ended up marooned.


A kilometre of water still separates him from civilisation, and it could be years before the lake recedes sufficiently for him to walk out.

With the water up to 2m deep, and Bernard unable to swim far, Hodge believes his only option is to winch the 800kg bull out by helicopter. But he can't afford the expense, and his requests for help from the army, State Emergency Service and Department of Primary Industries have been fruitless.

Since the floods, Bernard has been dependent on bales of hay which Hodge brings in by boat.

But he's not enjoying his solitary existence on the 1.6ha island, said Margaret O'Keefe, corporation relations manager of agricultural research organisation, the Birchip Cropping Group which is seeking to highlight his plight.

"He's becoming quite frustrated and cranky. He's getting quite boisterous, and the outlook for him getting off the island is pretty grim, because even if we don't get any more rain, the lake could be full for another couple of years."

Hodge travels to the area from his property 165km away to keep him alive.

"Some days we've had to hide behind a tree when we're feeding him, because he'll come running at us," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.