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The Albert River (post Cyclone Debbie)

by Trixie, over 1 year ago

Curiosity took us to Yatala Pies in April 2017 - we had seen news coverage that the flood waters from cyclone Debbie had overwhelmed the building.  We thought, "Wow, had that whole area there gone under?"  We decided to check it out a couple of days later, once things were back to normal. We were surprised to find that most of the land surrounding Yatala Pies was dry and had not been affected by floods, and yet the Pie place was. How was that?  We decided to do some snooping about.

We drove to where the bridge on Martens Street takes you over the Albert River into Beenleigh. We stopped at the small park below the bridge, and it was very evident that there had been severe flooding there. And yet some of the land had not been touched as it showed no evidence of inundation. So we asked ourselves, "How come some of the land had flooded and other areas not?"

It had to be a combination of the contour of the land and the actual river itself. So we decided to follow the River upstream, on the Beenleigh/Tamborine Rd, to see if we could see more evidence of flooded lands.  The river was not always in view due to built-up areas, hills, heavy bushland, etc but the odd gap appeared.  At those times, we saw evidence of where the river had broken its banks. Even though seeing some of that destruction from quite a distance, we knew this must have been big.

We became more engrossed on our journey, catching more glimpses of the River and the destruction. After a short drive out of Beenleigh, we came into open space and a road called Stanmore Road with barricades across the road that led onto a high bridge. "CLOSED" read the sign. There before us were many cars parked, and people wandering about taking in the extent of Mother Nature's fury. Just one look at the scenery told its own story. We couldn't believe what we saw, with so much destruction. Mature trees were uprooted, or snapped in half, and lying on their sides. The foliage on the river banks showed a high brown mark, a sobering indication of the height that the rushing waters had reached as it sped down the river and on out to sea. We saw all sorts of debris caught in unusual places, including in the railings at the top of the bridge - the floodwaters had gone right over the top of the bridge!!

We walked down a steep pathway that led us to a small park underneath the Alan Wilke bridge. What we saw under the bridge was a sight to behold, and quite disturbing as it showed evidence of the brute force exerted by the massive volume of water that had engorged the Albert River.  It had crashed into the bridge supports with such speed and force, and at such a height, that it left some of the bridge suspended on nothing, as the rocks providing the foundation had been dragged away with the force of the rushing water.

Just unbelievable. A small tarsealed road that had previously led to the picnic area underneath the bridge had completely disintegrated. Parts of it were just gone, while other parts were piled on top of each other, all askew. From what we saw, it was obvious that the main Waterford/Tamborine Road would have also been cut at that point by the floodwaters.  Fortunately, the waters would not have been so deep, nor the weight of the water so strong, so the road itself was already back in use today.  But not so the Alan Wilke bridge.  That took some 6 months to put right and allow vehicles to use it once more.

Just incredible to see, and somewhat freaky to imagine how much power that water had exerted to do what it had done.  The Alan Wilke bridge is built quite high, and was likely not expected to flood - ever.  But flood, it did - Cyclone Debbie saw to that, and put a highly-used transit corridor out of action.

I took many photos of the scene.  Today, the river's calmness was back, quietly flowing at about walking speed, bringing back some sort of sanity around the destruction. Life was coming back to normal with Welcome Swallows flitting about, catching insects in the air.

And for me, a lucky find - there, perching high on a bare tree, was an Osprey, intently watching the river far below him.  He was probably happy, as the weather is back to normal so that he can "go fishing again."  Ospreys are deemed to be one of the very best avian "fishermen". 

Les and I had enjoyed a rather interesting day - snooping !!

Trixie Benbrook

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