Rockhampton Flood Crisis – The Fitzroy River Basin

Posted on Tue 01/11/2011 by


While the flood crisis has now escalated into almost a catastrophe in other places in the State of Queensland, particularly in the heavily populated South East corner where the vast bulk of the population lives, in and around the State Capital city Brisbane, the flood is still a major problem here in Rockhampton, but with such devastation and loss of life to the South East of the State, what we are going through here is nowhere on the scale of what is happening there.

The level at the flood marker here in Rockhampton is still hovering at 8.9 metres, (29 feet 3 inches) which is barely 8 inches off its peak. That peak was reached last Thursday, so right now the river has virtually stayed at that level for the last 5 days. With such a huge volume of water flowing down the Fitzroy, it’s quite likely that the river will stay at that level for a while longer yet, and only drop by very small amounts. The river level is expected to stay above 8.5 metres for another ten days.

I mentioned in yesterday’s Post that the amount of water flowing past the city is equal to twice the volume of the huge Sydney Harbour every day, and that so far an amount of water equal to 40 times that volume has passed through the city, and just as much is still on the way here.

I mentioned in earlier Posts the size of the Fitzroy River basin, and again to emphasise the size, this River catchment area is huge, around 355,000 Square Kilometres, or around 58,000 square miles, about the same size as the State of Georgia in the U.S., this area in a State that is 2.6 times the size of Texas. I also mentioned in earlier Posts that there are 9 major rivers in this system, and after the Murray Darling Basin, the Fitzroy basin is the second largest river basin in Australia. That’s an easy thing to say, but to actually imagine the size, and that number of rivers is a difficult thing to comprehend. Just following that system on Google Earth gives no real idea of the overall size of the area where these rivers flow in the huge area covered by all those rivers.

Three times I have posted these flood height figures, but again that also does not show the scope of the huge area, now in flood. These are the latest figures from that same site that gives regular updates on those river heights.

Latest River Heights:
Dawson R at Utopia Downs * 4.36m rising 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Juandah Ck at Windamere * 1.93m rising 02:40 PM TUE 11/01/11
Dawson R at Taroom * 3.62m steady 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Dawson R at Moura 7.85m rising slowly 04:30 PM MON 10/01/11
Mimosa Ck at Redcliff * 2.16m steady 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Dawson R at Baralaba 8.6m falling 03:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Dawson R at Beckers * 10.06m falling 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Dawson R at Knebworth * 12.28m rising 03:05 PM TUE 11/01/11
Comet R at Comet Weir * 7.26m steady 11:00 AM TUE 11/01/11
Nogoa R at Raymond # 2.65m falling 03:14 PM TUE 11/01/11
Nogoa R at Craigmore # 5.36m falling 02:48 PM TUE 11/01/11
Nogoa R at Fairbairn Dam HW * 1.05m falling 01:50 PM TUE 11/01/11
Nogoa R at Emerald # 7.95m falling 03:24 PM TUE 11/01/11
Policeman’s Ck at Rubyvale # 0.7m steady 01:55 PM TUE 11/01/11
Theresa Ck at Gregory Highway # 2.07m steady 01:29 PM TUE 11/01/11
Mackenzie R at Bedford Weir TW # 12.32m falling 03:31 PM TUE 11/01/11
Mackenzie R at Bingegang Weir HW # 2.43m rising 03:42 PM TUE 11/01/11
Connors R at Pink Lagoon * 4.16m falling 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Isaac R at Yatton * 6.57m steady 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11
Mackenzie R at Tartrus * 10.67m falling 06:30 AM TUE 11/01/11
Fitzroy R at Riverslea * 23.62m falling 02:40 PM TUE 11/01/11
Fitzroy R at Rockhampton 8.9m falling slowly 02:00 PM TUE 11/01/11

It’s easy to Post this information, but a little more difficult to give the scope of what that information covers. Tracing the flow of those rivers on an informational tool like Google Earth is an exercise of itself, but again, that is a difficult thing to explain, and that actual Earth image is all but impossible to post, and show just what it looks like. I went searching for a suitable image that just shows the actual rivers as the main thing on that map.

This is the map I found that gives a much better idea of the scope of this area in flood. If you click on this link to open in a new and larger window.


Fitzroy River Basin

As can be seen quite easily, this is a vast area. Click >> Fitzroy River Basin to open a larger image in a new window.

From the small map of the State of Queensland you can see this river basin covers a very large area of the State.

Rockhampton is at the right of the yellow section on the map at about half way down the map.

The river flowing from the South is the Dawson. The Don and its tributaries flow into that river.

The river from the north is the McKenzie, which flows from where you see ‘Emerald’ on that map.

Into the McKenzie flow the Nogoa, and the Comet, which changes name at Rolleston. Theresa Creek also flows into the Nogoa below Fairbairn Dam, (Lake Maraboon)

From further north flows the Isaac and into that flows the Connors. The Isaac flows into the McKenzie.

The McKenzie and the Dawson join to become the Fitzroy at around mid screen near the town of Dauringa there, and the Fitzroy then makes its way all around the map as it moves through Rockhampton and into the Pacific Ocean.

Every single one of these rivers and creeks were in major flood, the first time in recorded history that this has happened.

As you can also see, there are many dams and weirs on all these rivers and creeks, but nothing whatsoever could have held back a flood of this mammoth proportion.

Also keep in mind that the flood waters are flowing at around 10 MPH, so that is why that flood water flow takes so long to travel down what is effectively hurdreds of miles of rivers in this area.

That is why that flood level will stay above the 8.5 metre level here in Rockhampton for so long.