Monday, January 25, 2010

Australia Day Floods 1974

People who were around in Brisbane thirty-six years ago will still remember the Australia Day Floods. It rained and it rained, and then it rained some more - about three weeks of rain (1.5 metres or 60 inches in the old scale) led up to the Australia Day weekend and the fatal floods where sixteen people perished. The Brisbane River burst its banks in many places including the CBD. Damage estimates were up at around one billion dollars in 1974 terms, or about seven billion of today's dollars. (For reference: I bought a 1,000 square metre block of land at The Gap in 1975 for $9,000 - my father told me it was too expensive! - and these days you would be hard pressed to buy a similar size block there for less than $450,000.) 

Anyway, back to the floods - workers were unable to get to their jobs, public transport was hamstrung and thousands of homes were inundated. The nightly news bulletins were full of home evacuations and rescues of stranded people and animals. In the CBD, water entered lots of buildings and destroyed the records and stock of many businesses. Here is a picture of Edward St, showing men wading through chest-deep water at the Port Office Hotel on the corner of Margaret St - at the peak of the flood, the water here was 6.6 metres above normal levels.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #lbp0008)

Thankfully the deluge finally stopped. People set about cleaning up, and that was a backbreaking job that was taking place all over Brisbane. I remember Channel Nine's newsreader at the time, Don Seccombe, crying on location as he described the devastation experienced by some.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Now it's all just a memory. The Port Office Hotel is dry (by that I mean no floodwater rather than no beer!) and still functioning - see my recent photo above. There are buildings that have recorded the height of the floodwater as their own memory.

Naldham House, home of the Brisbane Polo Club, has markers showing three momentous Brisbane floods, as seen here on the Brisbane Daily Photo blog. Anyone wanting to know more about the floods and their aftermath could read this detailed report from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: "We never sleep"


  1. Wow. The flood picture is amazing. I can't imagine that water would have been too pleasant.
    It's really interesting hearing people's personal accounts of where they were and descriptions of where the water came up to on their street. Such a defining point in Brisbane's history. Excellent post.

  2. Thanks cara. One thing I didn't put in the post is that it is as a direct result of the 1974 floods that I first met and spoke to my wife, the lovely mrs tff! Always a silver lining, as they say!

  3. Coastal floods are caused by severe sea storms, or at the hands of another hazard such as a tsunami or a hurricane. Storm surges, as mentioned before, are also included in coastal floods.

    darwin weather


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