QUEENSLAND FLOOD SUMMARY 1860 - 1869
Extracts from: Results of Rainfall Observations made in Queensland, H.A. Hunt, Commonwealth Meteorologist, 1914.
29th March to 1st April
Heavy rain at Gladstone. The Calliope and Boyne Rivers rose exceedingly high and flooded a large portion of the district. Several farmers compelled to leave their head stations and seek shelter as best they could. Great numbers of sheep swept away, and a man lost his life whilst attempting to swim across a creek.
Maryborough: Very heavy rains in Wide Bay and Burnett districts. The Gayndah mail a week behind time in consequence of a flood in the Barambah.
Rockhampton: Heavy rain commenced on 29th and continued until the night of 31st, when the storm increased. On the morning of 1st April the river reached its highest level, not less than 20 feet above the highest spring tides.
Reports on the 31st stated that 2,000 sheep had been drowned about a mile from the town, and that the back country was under water for miles.
The Messrs. Archer sailed 7 miles from their head station at Gracemere to within a short distance of the town. The new saw-mill was covered. The water extended from the town as far as the eye could reach, and actually communicated with the Yeppen Yeppen, which rose 18 feet. The wharves and boat sheds were covered, but appeared to suffer no material damage.
Yaamba: An unprecedented flood in the Fitzroy; highest water level reached by river so far at this township. Some of the farms recently laid out near Alligator Creek were about 2 fathoms under water. Traffic at a standstill. The Calliope and Boyne Rivers in the Port Curtis District overflowed their banks in consequence of the heavy rains, and inundated a large extent of country. One man lost his life while attempting to swim a swollen creek; much damage was done, several hundreds of sheep being washed away.
Rockhampton: Fresh in the river caused by the late heavy rains considerably decreased, and river almost at its ordinary level.
The Nogoa, Mackenzie, Comet, Isaacs, and the Connors Rivers rose slightly, but the lower part of the Dawson was very high. The whole of the country between Rannes and the River Dee - a distance of 14 miles - was flooded, whilst at the township of Rannes the rise in the river was about 40 feet. In the vicinity of Knebsworth the Dawson rose 30 feet above its usual height.
The Upper Dawson was not flooded, though heavy rains fell in the locality.
The rise was very rapid at Yaamba, and the river reached its greatest height, which was within 6 feet of the level of the township about twelve hours earlier than at Rockhampton.
26th June: Ipswich: The late rains caused a considerable rise in the Bremer, and all traffic was carried by punts.
1st July: Dalby: Owing to heavy rainfall about Warwick, the Condamine rose about 10 feet; passage of drays blocked.
16th January: Heavy flood on the Fitzroy River.
24th January: Severe floods on the Fitzroy River.
26th January: Ipswich: Brisbane River bank high (see Rainfall (Heavy).
30th January: Ipswich: Bremer River still rising, and the Brisbane a banker.
2nd February: Ipswich: Bremer rapidly falling. At the height of the flood a shed on the river bank was about 15 feet under water.
7th February (about): Dalby: Condamine River bank high.
9th to 19th February: Maryborough: Heavy storms of wind and rain; Mary River a great height, wharves submerged; steamers compelled to anchor in mid-stream; Union Saw-mills flooded on the 13th; boats employed to remove resident families from lower part of ground; scrub road to the farms at the south east of the town impassable.
1lth February: Ellangowan, neat Toowoomba: The Condamine River swollen; highest level for years.
13th and 16th February: Severe floods at Brisbane, Ipswich, and places elsewhere.
Brisbane: Great deal of damage done by floods; road to Ipswich impassable; Oxley Creek residents flooded out; hundreds of acres of land under water; machinery at the mill affected, work stopped; Frog's Hollow under water; telegraphic communication with Sydney interrupted. River 40 feet above ordinary level.
Taroom: Plenty of rain in the district; Dawson River flooded, and for some clays impassable at the township; bridge under water. A few hundred sheep lost through flood.
18th to 20th February: Ipswich: Heavy rain fell incessantly from the 12th until the 15th, and caused the highest flood, except that of 18,11, on record. Stores along the wharves swept away; roads and creeks impassable; ferry house and several small buildings on the banks of gullies and other low-lying positions inundated; creek at One-mile Bridge a roaring torrent, telegraph posts submerged; Rosewood township partly under water; Nelson Plains one sheet of water.
19th February: Floods throughout the country; fearful gales on coast.
20th and 21st February: Toowoomba: One of the most violent storms of wind and rain experienced occurred. Heavy and continuous rain; streets almost impassable; creeks unfordable. The greater portion of the lowlands between Laidley and Ipswich one sea of water; Dalby mail delayed.
Warwick: One of the most disastrous floods ever experienced in the district occurred. On the night of the 20th a fearful storm caused much damage. The Condamine rose and flooded the flats; Rosenthal Creek in flood; wash-pools and bridges destroyed; 4 feet of water around telegraph posts at the Warwick Post Office.
26th February: Surat: Floods on the Dogwood Creek; great losses.
Ipswich: Macintyre River unfordable; it rose a few feet during the week.
Gayndah: Great rain and wind storms. Burnett River in flood, 40 feet above ordinary level; highest flood in the district for six years. A number of sheep drowned; garden produce, domestic utensils, etc., washed away.
Condamine: Heavy rain lately; river a banker, highest level reached for years.
27th February (about): Leyburn: Abundance of rain; Condamine River for some days several feet above the bridge at Ellangowan. Great number of sheep swept away by the flood. At Yandilla the residents were compelled to climb trees to escape the flood waters.
4th March: Peak Downs: Country flooded; roads impassable; provisions scarce.
9th March: Gayndah: It was reported that one of the up country stations lost 2,000 sheep, and several others lesser numbers during the late storm and flood.
16th March: Maryborough: Some persons injured whilst attempting to cross flooded rivers; roads in very bad state; mails delayed.
17th March: Flood in Queen-street, Brisbane; very heavy fall of rain; shops and dwelling-houses flooded. (See Rainfall (Heavy) ).
28th March: McIntyre River: Long, continued spell of wet weather; floods experienced on all the rivers to the westward.
13th April: Gayndah: Burnett River impassable for last two months.
23rd April: Brisbane: The late rain caused floods over the low-lying ground at Milton and in Fortitude Valley.
25th April: Ipswich: Bremer River rose 15 feet; water within a few inches of the One-mile bridge; rain ceased; no further rise.
20th June: Goondiwindi: Heavy rains; roads almost navigable; river swollen; mails delayed.
6th to 9th July: Warwick: Highest flood known for many years in the McIntyre Brook occurred; the water rose to a great height in the neighbourhood of Pike's Creek.
10th October: Goondiwindi: Roads on many occasions during past nine months covered with water, generally about knee deep; rivers impassable.
13th October: Talgai: Floods; bridge at the Condamine submerged.
3rd December: Ipswich: Continuous rain; flood at Three-Mile bridge; western road impassable.
16th December: Peak Downs Diggings: Copious rains; Belyando River a banker; Mackenzie high; Fitzroy (at Yaamba) swollen.
3rd to 10th February: Goondiwindi: Rain poured down incessantly. The river rose, overflowed its narrow limits, rushed down the streets, and flooded the houses. It remained at its height for two days, then slowly abated.
5th February: Ipswich: Owing to heavy rains communication with the interior cut off and the Warwick mailman forced to return to Ipswich; creek at Fassifern bank and bank; Bremer River rising rapidly.
8th February (from Courier files, 8th to 13th February, 1864):-
The weather has been very tempestuous and rainy during the early part of the week, and the Bremer and Brisbane Rivers rose above their usual flood-tide levels, Very slight inconvenience was felt in Brisbane from the overflow, the proprietors of warehouses on the waterside having taken timely precautions to prevent damage to property by removing their goods. At Ipswich, however, the ferry house was submerged, and the gauging shed was considerably damaged, and several of the wharves were flooded. Steam traffic between the two towns was temporarily suspended. Man drowned whilst attempting to cross the river at Ipswich."
18th February: -Rockhampton: River within a few feet of the summit of the second bank; low-lying huts, boathouses, and other buildings submerged. Portion of the low-lying land below Crocodile Creek flooded. Country reports indicate a general rise in rivers and creeks. Two deaths by drowning chronicled.
20th February: Heavy floods throughout colony.
23rd February: Leyburn: Flood-one of the heaviest experienced for some years; low lands of the Downs in many places several feet under water; mails delayed for days; roads impassable; 300 sheep carried away by the flood.
4th to 10th March: Lower Condamine: Steady and continuous rain; creeks flooded.
6th March: Maryborough: Great quantities of rain during past fortnight; impossible for teams to cross creeks.
8th March: Floods at Toowoomba (from Courier files 15th to l8th March, 1864): "The rain increased on Tuesday, 8th March, and its effect was speedily apparent in the great body of water that passed down the western swamp at the foot of James-street. The flood in the evening was within 12 inches of the roadway over the Premier bridge in Russell-street, or 2 feet higher than the highest flood level previously known. The streets are, in many parts, 6 to 8 inches deep in mud and slush."
9th March (from Courier files, 15th to l8th March, 1864): The Rockhampton Bulletin of 10th inst. says- . . . The Fitzroy again exhibits signs of an approaching flood - last night the wharves were submerged 3 or 4 feet, and the waters were rising rapidly. (See Rainfall (Heavy) )
12th March: West Maranoa: The heaviest rains ever seen in the district, by either blacks or whites, occurred about the beginning of the month. Rain commenced on the 26th February and continued for thirteen days and nights, except for occasional breaks of an hour or so. One spell of rain lasted for 48 hours without a break. Creeks and rivers swollen; roads quite impassable. Continuous rain also fell between 2nd and l4th February, which caused record floods on the Maranoa and Balonne; and this later rain was expected to cause floods of even more severe nature.
16th March: Brown River: Higher floods in the Dawson, Mimosa, and Brown Rivers than ever known before; Dawson 11 feet higher than previous flood.
17th to l9th March:
Flood and gale at Brisbane and Ipswich (from the
files, l9th to 22nd March, 1864): Very
seldom indeed is the neighbourhood of Brisbane visited by a gale of
wind of so lengthy a duration
and of so violent a character as that which commenced on Thursday night
last (17th March) and
terminated on Saturday. It was throughout accompanied by heavy and
continuous rains, which beat
into the windows of the best-protected houses, and did a great deal of
damage generally. Between
the hours of 9 a.m. on Friday until 9 a.m. on Saturday no less than
6.72 inches of rain fell; and
in such a manner as to defy every effort made to subvert its
penetrating power. Out of doors
umbrellas were useless, and indoors the rain made its way under eaves
through crevices in shingles
- in fact, it came in in every conceivable way. On Saturday night the
river began to rise, and it
was evident that a flood was impending. The telegraph posts at the
One-mile Creek Bridge, Ipswich,
which had been raised 20 feet higher than they were at the flood of
1863, were swept away, although
they had been let into the ground to a depth of 9 feet and supported by
struts. The water at
Brisbane rose throughout the whole of Sunday, and at 4 o'clock in the
afternoon Albert-street, from
Alice-street to Charlotte-street, was impassable, and many, of the
residents of Frog's Hollow had
to abandon their tenements. Raft's Wharf was 5 feet under water, as
also were Harris's, Forrests',
and Towns'. The water went up Russell-street as far as Mr. Kinchela's
store. At the 3 miles scrub
the water rose 25 feet above the ordinary level. At Milton much damage
was done, and the whole of
the cemeteries were under water. (See Windstorms.)
27th January: Bowen: Roads impassable; rivers
unable to cross.
|9 a.m.||3 p.m.||9 p.m.||Total|
At Breakfast Creek many trees were uprooted, and two horses were killed by trees falling on them. One of the most curious effects of the wind on Saturday night was the destruction of a small wooden cottage situated in a gully near the oval. During the night, while the occupants were in bed, the wind lifted the house bodily from its foundation, leaving the floor intact, and carried it to a distance of 8 or 10 yards.
When the steamer Brisbane left Ipswich at 9.30 a.m. on Monday the water was fully 30 feet above the level of the ordinary high tide. The water was at its highest about 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, when it was 10 feet higher than at the time the steamer left. In spite of the exertions of the men employed to clear the bridge of the accumulation of drift timber that collected on Sunday, they were unable to remove the logs and rubbish as fast as they drifted down the river. The mass of timber increased-in size, and the immense pressure occasioned by it caused the piles to yield . . . . About 6.30 p.m. the two narrow bays on the north side of the wide one left for the passage of the river steamers gave way with a tremendous crash. The piles were broken off, and the planking fell into the river, leaving a gap of about 70 feet . No further damage took place until past 10 o'clock, when the whole of the remainder on the north side of the gap, with the exception of about 30 feet from the abutment, was carried away. Fortunately no accident to life occurred.
Floods throughout the country, especially the southern parts.
Ipswich: Bremer rose 9 feet; wharves submerged; flood anticipated.
23rd January: Ipswich: Floods subsiding, weather clearing up.
25th January: Dalby: Roads on the black soil plains almost impassable owing to the rains. Flood water from the Bunya Mountains coming down, and creek rising.
l2th to 15th February: Rockhampton: Fresh in river during last three days. At Yaamba on l2th inst. the river was 4 feet higher than any water mark made last year, and on the l4th it rose higher still. Eighteen--mile Island submerged; Alligator, Lion, Ten-mile and Deep Creeks all in flood. At high tide on l4th Queen's wharf was more than 2 feet under water.
l4th February: Rockhampton: The Fitzroy rose 9 feet, and still rising; the Dawson bank high.
18th February: Maryborough: River 50 feet higher than during the dry season; roads in very bad condition.
19th February: Taroom: River in flood; greatest height reached since the great flood of 1864.
24th February: Rockhampton: Mails between Rockhampton and Clermont detained by floods.
Ruthven: Creeks all bank high, and plains almost under water.
Maryborough: River 50 feet above ordinary level.
2nd March: Rolleston: Rivers and creeks bank and bank for several days; large trees uprooted and carried down stream; low lands covered with water for miles. On 31st ult. the Comet River was 16 feet above the bridge.
30th March: Burketown: Very high floods on Albert and Leichardt; the latter rose 50 feet in 24 hours. The township of Chandos, was completely submerged.
5th April: Heavy floods reported on Flinders River; losses of sheep on several stations.
Ipswich: Heavy rains. Slight fresh in the Bremer last week, and on 27th the river continued to rise with great rapidity. Shortly after noon it was flush with the wharves, and towards evening there were several feet of water in the sheds. The railway line was also damaged.
Warwick: Creeks much swollen, and roads in very bad state.
4th May: Goondiwindi: Unceasing heavy rain-flood succeeding flood; mails held up; grass most luxuriant.
6th May: Rain fell for nearly 50 consecutive hours over the country at the head of the Clarence River, which rose from 20 to 30 feet above the usual level. I
24th June: Jimna Creek Diggings: Mary River and creeks swollen.
29th June: Taroom: The recent rains flooded the Dawson.
13th March: Gulf Country: The following is an extract from a letter published in the Cleveland Bay Express of l3th March, referring to the condition of the Gulf Country: " We have had fearfully heavy floods, higher by 4 feet 6 inches than ever before known to the station hands. Some stations were 4 feet under water, and nearly everything was swept away, whilst one man was drowned. Very heavy losses of sheep -one owner lost 3,000, another 2,000, and at Port Bowen 800 died. Some of the stations further down have been swept away, rations and all, but no loss of life reported."
8th April: Maryborough: Rain almost daily since the 20th March; grassy flats transformed into lakes; river rising; roads very bad.
Rockhampton: Fitzroy rising steadily; wharves almost under water; Dawson and Mackenzie Rivers bankers; country traffic stopped.
Leyburn: One of the greatest floods experienced in the district swamped the water-course known as Canal Creek in less than two hours; much damage done.
10th April (about):
Goondiwindi: The mailman from Mungindi reported that the Barwon was a sea; nothing seen like it for years.
Mary River: No end of rain; country like a swamp. Man drowned while attempting to cross a creek near Tiaro.
21st April: Goondiwindi: Creeks flooded; mails delayed.
Updated November 2010.