Stranded, but western towns rejoice as ‘old friend comes home’

Food and other essential supplies have been trucked, ferried and flown in to people stranded by floodwaters in outback southwest Queensland.

Mar 09, 2020, updated Mar 09, 2020
A property surrounded by floodwater near Thargomindah.

Supplied: Alex Edwards

A property surrounded by floodwater near Thargomindah. Supplied: Alex Edwards

It followed a 21-year rainfall record broken last week for Thargomindah’s wettest day, when ex-cyclone Esther dumped torrential rain over the drought stricken region.

The Bulloo River at Thargomindah peaked at 5.4 metres on Sunday and is expected to reach major flood levels again today as more floodwaters arrive from upstream.

Trucks have been stranded on remote cattle stations, while livestock has been moved to higher ground.

The region’s Mayor, known locally as John “Tractor” Ferguson, said he expected the water to remain high for a couple of weeks.

“I think it’s going to be a long flood, because there’s a lot of little peaks coming along,” he said.

“We can drive on the western side of the river, but we can’t go east anywhere, unless we go over in a boat.”

Several boatloads of frozen and tinned goods were ferried in to town over the weekend, replenishing stocks at the local roadhouse, shop and pub.

Supplies were also flown in to remote properties.

“Two properties had kids on them, little babies, so we took food and stuff down to them,” councillor Ferguson said.

“Everybody’s happy.”

The Mayor said the water had brought plenty of flies and mosquitos, but spirits were high.

“When the river runs, we say it’s like an old friend coming home,” he said.

“We love it, we love the flood!”

But it has also meant a temporary halt to some business operations.

Peter Macc is a truck driver who carts water for drilling in the oil and gas fields in southwest Queensland’s Cooper Basin.

He said workers had been flown out of the flooded area, but machinery like trailers and a crane had been left behind.

Macc expects it will be a fortnight to three weeks before he can get back.

“We’ve just got to sit here and wait for it to dry out,” he said.

“It just started raining and then wouldn’t stop, so this is as bad as I’ve seen it.

“There are stories from the old fellas about it being worse, but it’s the worst I’ve seen it where we can’t do anything for a couple of weeks”.

– ABC / Jessica van Vonderen

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