Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BABC: SE Queensland floods-Toowoomba

The post Toowoomba floods a joke no more by ABCs Michael Collet on The Drum contains the following statement: "At first I was dumbfounded, amused even. Those from Toowoomba would have understood the joke. We're on a bloody mountain. We don't do floods. Puddles, occasionally. Well, we do floods now."
Had Michael taken the opportunity to search the National Library's Newspaper archive with the words: Toowoomba and Flood, he would have come across numerous references  to floods in Toowoomba, our search found 24885. Amongst them this article from The Brisbane Courier for 24 June1873 titled simply The Floods in the Toowoomba District. The following extracts are of relevance:
THE heaviest rainfall ever recorded in this district occurred on Wednesday morning lastfrom 11 o'clock on Tuesday night until about2 o'clock on Wednesday morning sharp heavy showers were of frequent occurrence, but from that hour until 5am the rain descended literally in torrents, flooding the streets in a manner that was never before witnessed by the oldest inhabitant.

Ruthven street, from the corner of Margaret-street to the Post office, was covered with water, while Russell street presented the appearance of a large swift running river.

the stream at this point was about eighty yards wide, the hurrying waters running over the middle rail of the bridge and flooding Mr Stirling's smithy and the butcher's shop

An article in The Advertiser titled The Queensland Floods dated 20/2/1893 states in relation to Toowoomba:
February 18. It has rained incessantly in torrents here from Thursday afternoon until 6o'clock last night, when the flood waters reached the highest level ever known at Toowoomba. Not only in Russell-street was the flood higher than ever known before, but on East Swamp the waters, unprecedentedly their height, broke over Ruthven-street bridge, and the torrent of water caused a breakdown to occur on the bridge on the western side.

It seems the events of this week are not "unprecedented". The floods in Toowoomba never were a "joke".
Before the ABC: an occasional snapshot of news in the days BABC


  1. Great find Marc - I have an article from Monday - Toowoomba flash flood shambles
    and I link to your page.
    When all this is over - surely there will be an inquiry into the deaths and lack of warnings.

  2. Hi Warwick,
    Thanks for the link. The National Library have certainly done a great job with their newspaper archive. I have a letter in today's SMH that might interest. It cites a study by Stewart Franks and co that should have been something Governments were aware of. see (half way down)

    Comparing current situation with 1890s it's clear that under a cool PDO this will not be the last flood of this period, sadly it might not be the worst!



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