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Phone: 47412942, 0432414278
Memories of Flinders River Flood Back
Thursday March 22, 2012
THERE is little wonder there was such a spectacle on the banks next to Ernest Henry Bridge on Tuesday March 20 – it was almost exactly a decade since the water last lapped over the road.
Traffic was stopped just before 4.30pm on Tuesday, after a rapid rise in water level caused the River to lap over the bridge – known to locals as the Flinders River Bridge.
A build up of debris created from the torrent of water and subsequent spill-over on to the road led to the Council decision to close the road to all traffic until about 7pm when water levels subsided.
This included a closure to all pedestrians.
Council Chief Executive Officer Stephen McCartney said the water reached 3.2m according to the gauge yesterday (March 20) , meaning the water was 0.7m below the bridge.
The fast-flowing river meant that a significant amount of water crossed the road during the few hours the bridge was closed.
``The marker is on the downstream side of the bridge and the water builds up and splashes onto the deck/roadway,’’ he said.
Mr McCartney said the reason the river flowed so quickly was because of the height the water was coming down from.
``The catchment extends 100km north of Hughenden and collects water from the White Mountains and areas adjoining the Burdekin catchment,’’ he said.
``The high country is up to 3,000 feet above sea-level and has numerous small creeks that flow into the Flinders and then through Hughenden at 1,100 feet above sea-level.
``The water slows considerably once it gets out past Richmond.’’
About 50 people waited on either side of the bridge – some watching in hope that the water would subside quickly so they could get home, while others there with cameras, just interested in the rare flooding event.
The last time the Flinders River flooded over the bridge was on February 15, 2002.
Flinders Discovery Centre Tourism Officer Erin Kinchela said she was so fascinated the first time she saw the river flooding over the bridge in 2002 that she got really sunburnt on an overcast day watching the event.
`` There were heaps of people watching,’’ she said.
``I was 12 and my parents lived over the river.
``I remember coming over the river in the morning and it was really, really high.
``Mum worked at the school and decided to go home early, but everyone told me if it did go over, it would only be for a couple of hours at the most – so I stayed at school.
``As it turned out that was not the case and I was stuck over this side.
`` I’m not sure if it was for one or two nights, but I do remember going to buy some spare clothes.
``My Dad works on the Railway so he was not in town, so it was Mum by herself and the house ended up flooding, as well as a few others. ‘’
Before 2002, the Flinders Bridge River had flooded on January 30, 1997.
Then a year later, the Flinders River flowed continuously from December 15 1997 until January 31st 1998.
This was the same year there was major flooding in the district. At the time the Burdekin River peaked at 20.5 on January 8, almost 7m above the Burdekin Bridge, Charters Towers was isolated for 36 hours and Townsville was declared a flood disaster area.
The only other river flooding event recorded by Council in recent times was on February 5 1991, when the Flinders River Bridge went under at 10:30am.
While a long time ago Linda Brown remembers the event.
``I remember my friend getting flown home in the chopper,’’ she said.
`` I was 15 and I guess wet roads back then just meant mudlarking with friends.’’
After the water subsided yesterday Council crew used a backhoe/loader to remove debris and silt, along with personnel with brooms to tidy up.
There is a timeline of significant events in Hughenden’s history dating back to 1841 at the Flinders Shire Library and on the Flinders Shire website under `Hughenden’.