This brochure describes
the flood warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau
of Meteorology for the Burnett River. It includes reference information
which will be useful for understanding Flood Warnings and River Height
Bulletins issued by the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre during periods of
high rainfall and flooding.
The Burnett River is located on the southern Queensland coast with the mouth of the river sited just north of the City of Bundaberg. The total area of the catchment is about 33,000 square kilometres.
The Burnett River rises in the Dawes Range, just north of Monto and flows south through Eidsvold and Mundubbera. Along the way it is joined by the Nogo and Auburn Rivers which drain large areas in the west of the catchment. Just before Mundubbera, the main river is joined by the Boyne River draining areas from the south and then begins its northeasterly journey to the coast. Between Gayndah and Mt Lawless, the Barker-Barambah Creeks system joins the Burnett River.
Major flooding in the Burnett River is relatively infrequent. However, under favourable meteorological conditions such as a tropical low pressure system, heavy rainfalls can occur throughout the catchment which can result in significant river level rises and floods. These floods can cause considerable damage to rural properties along the rivers and to the commercial and residential areas in some of the smaller towns in the area and at Bundaberg.
The record of significant floods in the Burnett River extends back to the middle of last century. The flood record at Mundubbera commences with the 1942 flood when the river peaked at 23.62 metres. Since then, floods have been well below this level. At Gayndah, records extend back to 1864 with over 15 events exceeding the 10 metre level.
Major floods have been recorded at Bundaberg in 1875, 1890, 1893 (twice in 2 weeks), 1928, 1942, 1954, 2010 and 2013. The most recent significant event was in January 2013 when the river rose to 9.53 metres at Bundaberg, about 7.34 metres above Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT). HAT at Bundaberg is 2.19m on the flood gauge in Targo Street.
The Bundaberg and North Burnett Regional Councils, in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology operate a flood warning system for the Burnett River catchment. The ALERT network consists of automatic rainfall and river height stations which regularly forward data via radio telemetry to base stations located at the Council offices in Bundaberg, Gayndah and Mundubbera and the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre in Brisbane. The system provides early warning of heavy rainfall and river rises in the catchment and enables more accurate and timely flood warning and forecasts. The balance of the network consists of volunteer rainfall and river height observers who forward observations by telephone when the initial flood height has been exceeded at their station. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines also operates a number of automatic telemetry stations throughout the catchment which provide data during floods.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Burnett River during flood events. River height predictions are issued when moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded at a number of key locations. Predictions are also made for Bundaberg when the river level is expected to exceed 6.0 metres on the flood gauge. The objective is to provide between 12 and 24 hours advanced warning of flood heights in Bundaberg.
Depending on your location in the Burnett River catchment, further flood information can be found through any of the following councils: the South Burnett Regional Council, the Gympie Regional Council, the North Burnett Regional Council and the Bundaberg Regional Council.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Burnett River catchment regularly during floods. They are sent to radio stations for broadcast, and to local Councils, emergency services and a large number of other agencies involved in managing flood response activities.
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins are available via :
Internet/World Wide Web
Interpreting Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins contain observed river heights for a selection of the river height monitoring locations. The time at which the river reading has been taken is given together with its tendency (e.g. rising, falling, steady or at its peak). The Flood Warnings may also contain predictions in the form of minor, moderate or major flooding for a period in the future. River Height Bulletins also give the height above or below the road bridge or causeway for each river station located near a road crossing.
One of the simplest ways of understanding what the actual or predicted river height means is to compare the height given in the Warning or Bulletin with the height of previous floods at that location.
The table below summarises the flood history of the Burnett River catchment - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.
All heights are in metres on flood gauges.
At each flood warning river height station, the severity of flooding is described as minor, moderate or major according to the effects caused in the local area or in nearby downstream areas. Terms used in Flood Warnings are based on the following definitions.
Each river height station has a pre-determined flood classification which details heights on gauges at which minor, moderate and major flooding commences. Other flood heights may also be defined which indicate at what height the local road crossing or town becomes affected by floodwaters.
All heights are in metres on flood gauges. (B) = Bridge (O) = Old Bridge
The above details are correct at the time of preparing this document. Up-to-date flood classifications and other details for all flood warning stations in the network are at:
Flood gauge information
For the latest rainfall and river height conditions please use the following link:
For the latest rainfall and river height network map please use the following link:Network maps
For further information, contact:
The Regional Hydrology Manager, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 413, Brisbane Q 4001