Queensland Australia Flood Disaster Central – Rockhampton

Posted on Sat 01/01/2011 by



This is an update to my earlier post at the following link.

Major Floods In Queensland Australia

Sometimes, even though a flood only affects people in their own immediate area, the full scope of the area under water is sometimes lost, so consider this.

At the moment, the area under water in the State of Queensland Australia covers the same area as for the two States of Texas and neighbouring Oklahoma, or around 355,000 square miles.

In other areas, flood peaks have already happened, and while the water will stay up for quite a while yet, the levels in Rockhampton, where I live, are still rising.

With all images here, if you click on them, they will open in new and larger windows.

The image at right here shows a close up of the flood marker I took at 5PM on Saturday 1st January. It is currently at 8.5 Metres and very slowly rising. The three dates show the markers for the 1991, 1954 and the 1918 Floods at the top marker.

The earlier predicted peak was going to be 8.4 metres for Tuesday Jan 04. That level has already been reached and the new level is expected to be 9.4 metres, making this close to the second largest flood in recorded history, with only the peak of 1918 higher. However that peak of 1918 was long before the huge dam went in near Emerald, upstream, so in all probability, this will be in fact the worst flood in recorded history for this area. That level of 9.4 puts it the same as for the major flood of 1954 and just higher than for the most recent major flood in 1991.

The Fitzroy River Basin.

While the Fitzroy may seemingly look like only a short River, the whole basin covers a vast area, close to 60,000 square miles.

It is the second largest River Basin in Australia, after the huge Murray/Darling Basin which has 23 Major Rivers and is seven times larger than the Fitzroy Basin.

The Fitzroy Basin has 9 major Rivers in all.

The Dawson River flows from the South.

The McKenzie River flows from the North.

These two join at Riverslea, and become the Fitzroy River.

The Dawson has two Rivers flowing into it, the Dee and the Don Rivers.

The McKenzie has 3 Rivers flowing into it, the Nogoa, the Comet and the Isaac, and the Connors flows into the Isaac.

Every one of those 9 Rivers is in major flood, the first time in recorded history that something of this nature has occurred.

On the Nogoa River is the vastly huge Fairbairn Dam, (Lake Maraboon) Queensland’s second largest lake. This Dam is currently at 176% capacity and waters are flooding over the dam wall spillways to a height of almost three metres and more. This has caused a major flood in the nearby town of Emerald, which has a population of 10,000 people. 80% of that population have been evacuated to higher ground, and a major disaster relief effort is under way there. They had a flood there recently, in 2008, which was at that time the largest flood in their history, and this flood now is considerably worse than that was. There seems to be no end in sight for them as the waters backed up behind the dam will keep overflowing for anything up to ten to fourteen days. The water level in Emerald has reached its peak, and is slowly going down, but only by inches so far, as those waters get away down river.

All of that water is currently flowing downstream towards and into the Fitzroy, and through Rockhampton and out into the Pacific Ocean, 25 miles downstream from Rockhampton.

This Fairbairn Dam flood joins with flood waters from all those other 8 Rivers.

Currently, at the junction point of the two main Rivers at the start of the Fitzroy, at Riverslea, the level is still inching upward slowly, and because of that, the level in Rockhampton itself is still slowly rising.


This city has a population of 75,000 and so far about 400 homes have had to be evacuated in some of the lower lying areas.

I have included a map from the Google Earth site of Rockhampton and some of the environs. That map shows four structures across the River.

The three closest together are two road bridges and the rail bridge. The River flows from top left to bottom right as you see it here. The lowest of those three bridges is the original main road link across the Fitzroy, and that’s the Musgrave Street Bridge as it is referred to here. The main extent of the flooding is in the area to the immediate left of the river (as you look at the map here) and off screen to the bottom, mainly on that side of the River with some flooding on the other side of the River. That lower bridge there will be closed possibly as early as late today, not because it has gone under, but that the approaches are lower, and they will have water across the road there, but only to around two feet at most at the expected upper flood level. Inundation in that area of the City will be quite vast, and that is also the area of the main city centre as well.

The central structure in that image is the main Highway bridge, and that will remain open throughout the duration of the flood.

The top structure of those three there is the rail bridge and while still open, it is not in use as no trains are moving into the City. Those vast coal trains I mentioned in the earlier post pass to the South Western outskirts of the city and they also have stopped moving. Because each coal train is hauled by 5 locomotives, most of those locos are parked in the main rail depot, up to a hundred of them, and they might also in the flood affected area of the city. The flood in that depot area will rise to around one to two feet or so, and most of those locos will be partially submerged, so you can see a further extent of the problem just in that.

The top structure across the River, at the top left of screen is The Fitzroy River Barrage. I explained in some detail the reason for this Barrage in that earlier Post.

I have a couple of more recent images of that Barrage, taken on the Friday evening, and I have included them in this small slide show here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Barrage is closest to where I live, and even though our house is barely 2 miles from that Barrage, we will be unaffected by any inundation that does occur. Even though it looks relatively flat, we are around 6 to 10 metres higher than the current flood level in the River, and the water will never reach us here, as it all flows into the lower areas on the other side of the River.

The slideshow can be paused while you read some explanatory information about each of the slides by just pressing the centre button.

The slide showing The Barrage along its length shows the flood waters streaming through the structure. It has 18 gates, now all computer controlled, and with the gates all in the up position, which only happens during a flood.

The slide following that shows the speed of the water looking across the River. As you can plainly see, the water is quite churned up on this, the downstream side of The Barrage. The water is currently flowing at about 10 to 12 MPH, so it is moving very swiftly.

The slide following that is a close up of one section of The Barrage. Note the fence pole in the foreground at left with the greenery at the top of it. Then note the gap in The Barrage immediately behind and just to the right of that. Note the water backing up behind that concrete pylon, a further indicator of the speed of the flow of water.

The slide following that shows The Barrage with the water level at its normal height. An easy way to gauge the height of water currently is to look at the pylons in two of the images and noting the horizontal lines close to the top of a near pylon and referring them one to the other. This structure looks slightly different to the ones while the River is in flood, and this because all the gates are in the up position in the images of the River in flood.

With the flood waters from all those Rivers moving inexorably closer to Rockhampton, this flood looks to be one of the worst in recorded history for this local area where I live.

This is a disaster of mammoth proportions, and what I have detailed here is just some of the details.

Nothing I write can convey the personal suffering of so many people, and on such a vast scale, and the worst part of is that the worst is still to come, and it will be with us for weeks to come, as it is said that the waters will not start to recede until the middle to latter parts of the month of January.

This link takes you to a gallery of images of the flood in central Rockhampton and the suburb if Depot Hill, the worst affected residential area flooded. This gallery is taken from the local newspaper, The Morning Bulletin. When the screen opens, just press the play button at the bottom right of the slide show screen.

This link takes you to the main story at the (Australian) ABC Media site. At this page, there are also further links to other stories, videos, and audio clips as well, and those links are under the image on that main page.


For a further update, take the link to this following Post.

The Rockhampton Flood Crisis – The Fitzroy River Barrage


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – The Waiting Game


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – City Isolated


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – Flood Peak Arrives – Life Goes On


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – Attack Of The Blood Suckers


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – Images At The Fitzroy River Barrage


Rockhampton Flood Crisis – The Fitzroy River Basin