We needed the rain. But perhaps not so much all at once.
Darren and Ronda had been manning the visitor information centre at Binna Burra (Lamington National Park) in early January, and knew from a phone call from Denis that they wouldn’t be able to get home to Running Creek that night, as one of the local bridges was flooded.
Driving through pelting rain, they considered turning back but continued on instead to Brisbane. Rain frtom Lamington National Park drains into the valleys, including Running Creek. Next morning they couldn’t contact Denis or any of their neighbours by phone, so rang the phone company (Telstra) and were told yes, the line was down but it would be repaired withint 48 hours.
Ronda asked how their chaps were going to manage that if the line was under water, and was surprised to be told there was no report of flooding in that area (the phone was in fact unable to be connected for another 11 days, because of the flood damage).
She rang the State Emergency Service and was told yes there was severe flooding, they would not be able to get home but could reach Beaudesert (halfway point) if they left Brisbane immediately, before the flood waters hit the Logan River at Jimboomba.
They reached Beaudesert and continued south for about 10 km to where the road was already flooded and impassable, and what had been paddocks to each side were now vast lakes, with water lapping around the edges of houses on what had been hillsides overlooking the creeks. Dogs and children seemed to be enjoying this.
Worried about Denis (who they knew was now cut off from telephone communications and access to neighbours except over a very steep lantana-covered hillside, and who could be in danger if anytihing prevented him from reaching his asthma medications) they arranged with the emergency folk to send a helicopter the following morning, and spent the night with their friends the Taylors in Beaudesert.
Next day the emergency crew landed ther helicopter near the Araucaria property and found Denis was fine, but also reported that five of the bridges along the road had been destroyed. As soon as the waters subsided sufficiently later that day, Ronda and Darren drove as far as they could, alarmed to see that over 95% of the trees aloing the creekbed had been felled by the flood waters.
After leaving the car at a neighbours and crossing over a log onto the last bridge remaining almost intact, hearing that the next bridge was gone they started the long steep climb towards their property boundary, only to have a lightning storm begin just as they reached the exposed hilltop.
Fifteen seconds between ligthning and thunder, then 7, then 2! They quickly ducked under the fence and lay under the lantana bushes, hoping the plastic trashbags surrounding the laptops in their backpacks were tough enough to keep out the pounding rain. After a steep, slippery, sloshy, lantana-prickly trek down the first hill and an easier walk through grassy eucalypt country down the next, finally all were re-united.
We were told after a similar flood about 20 years ago that it was the worst for about 40 years, and this was worse, so it must be the worst for at least 60. Two bridges across the creek adjoining our property were totally demolished, and three others damaged along the road.
Temporary bridges have been established and work is soon to begin on new bridges that will be better able to withstand any future torrents. A sea wall has been built between our two bridges to prevemt half the road from being washed away again. We hope the telephone lines will at some stage be diverted so that they are less vulnerable.
Tours started again a couple of weeks later. We thought we would have to change the routes of tours to visit only unflooded areas, but this proved unnecessary, as councils on both sides of the border were quick to repair damage to roads to let vehicles through, although along Running Creek Road access was restricted for about a month to local residents and helpers (and our tour guests).
From the Beaudesert Times:
Shire submerged as rivers reclaim region.
Beaudesert Shire has been declared a natural disaster area after widespread flodding cut roads, ruined businesses, washed out bridges and left residents stranded … O’Reillys in Lamington National Park recording 464mm of rain
[the same paper also reported the helicopter visiting Denis, cars being stuck in floods, the O’reilly’s vineyard being destroyed, the township of Rathdowney being cut off by floodwaters on all sides, and many other stories]