Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Arriving back in Australia in Bundaberg towards the end of 2010, we firmly secured Kallisto to a fore and aft mooring in the Burnett River, bought Little White Car (LWC), and headed off to Adelaide for a proper Willmott family Christmas.  What fun!

The first week in Adelaide we stayed with niece Kerri and her bubbly daughter Leanie, having a ball working on puzzles and op-shopping for clothes.  But early on the morning of 19 December we got a call from Bundy’s Mid-Town Marina.  The river was in flood they informed us, and expected to continue rising.  They could no longer guarantee Kallisto’s security.

A decision was quickly reached.... I would fly back to Bundaberg and do what I could to protect our boat.  Arriving early that same afternoon just as the Mid-Town Marina shop was going under, staff ferried me out to Kallisto and assisted casting off. I was headed down-stream to Rocky Reach, a place locals advised that was good for riding out a Burnett River flood.

Arriving at Rocky Reach I anchored fore and aft close into the mangroves then, with several lines ashore, tucked in close to the bank well out of the river’s run.  Kallisto remained secure in this location right through the peak of the flood, while elsewhere chaos ensued.  What a Christmas and New Year. It wasn’t until Sunday 2 January that the river went down sufficiently for me to be able to make my way with relative safety out the river mouth and into Hervey Bay.

Kallisto anchored at Rocky Reach with lines into the mangroves.  Well out of the river’s run the boat felt safe and secure in this location..

... but midstream was a raging torrent running an estimated 12-14 knots.  Below Rocky Reach the river narrowed again, and was estimated to be running at 18 knots through the next bend.  Midstream a navigation mark, normally high up on a steel pile, can be just seen.

Debris swept past us continuously:  boats, sheds, tanks,
 refrigerators, trees, dead cows, very live snakes and pontoons.

There were 14 boats sheltering in Rocky Reach,
 we formed a little community.

After a week or so some of us ran short of food
and water and the police kindly participated in
supplying emergency provisions

. Opposite us was a successful cane farmers beautiful house and out buildings, complete with an immaculate schooner moored out front...

Between two out-buildings a large carport stored 
a Mercedes, a boat and various other things .

At the height of the flood the things under 
the carport went completely under.  

As the floods receded only the Mercedes re-emerged.  
As you can see, one outbuilding nearly didn’t make it as well.
The main house was well located on a rise, 
which at the height of the flood became an island surrounded by water. 
His neighbour’s houses were not so well located and many had to 
be winched to safety aboard this helicopter...

... but as the flood waters receded the schooner was less lucky, 

being caught and stranded on the bank

It was certainly not the only boat to come to grief

. The banks were littered with craft...

...perhaps these were the lucky ones, many were simply swept out to sea

Back in Bundy things were a real mess.  Midtown Marina was largely destroyed..

... boats were swept from their cradles in the town shipyard...

... boats, boardwalks and all manner of shoreside infrastructure  was damaged or destoyed...
... and the town dock looked like a write-off.
The river’s banks were swept bare of much of their vegetation and heavily eroded...
...and many of the waterfront buildings, while they looked fine, 
had suffered severe internal damage.  Water rose to the top
of the verandah of the right hand building.  What a flood!

Two weeks after flying out of Adelaide the river had receded sufficiently for me to make my way out through the Burnett River Heads and back out onto the open ocean.  I headed down to the Great Sandy Straits and Tin Can Bay.  On 5 January, I was reunited with the rest of the family who had by then driven LWC back from Adelaide.  Finally I could open my Christmas presents!!!

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