1893 Brisbane Flood - Newspaper Report 3 February 1893

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Any hopes that may have been entertained as to an improvement in the weather yesterday were doomed to disappointment, for the rain in Brisbane proved heavier than on any preceding day since it began. During the twenty-four hours ended at 9 o'clock yesterday morning 3·18in. were registered at Wickham-terrace Observatory, but at Bulimba the record was 4·80in, and at Bowen Park 4·41in. At 9 o'clock last evening Wickham-terrace reported 2·66in. for the preceding twelve hours, and the rain was then falling at the rate of 0·36in. per hour.

The most serious aspect of last evening's news lay in the reports of heavy rains and high floods in the Upper Brisbane and its tributary the Stanley. As will be soon from the telegrams published below, the high flood mark of 1890 must have been reached if not exceeded, and the water was still rising. Every preparation must, therefore, be made for a severe flood in the city, as a few hours will bring these waters past our doors. The only relieving feature appears to be that the Bremer and other southern tributaries of the Brisbane are not likely to swell the volume of flood waters so much as they sometimes do.

In Brisbane yesterday morning the tide was only 18in. above high-water springs; but every preparation was made by wharf owners and others as far as possible to remove property beyond reach of the water. In the Booroodabin Division Mr Leney, the board's clerk, went round last evening and warned the people in threatened localities. He was able, through the kindness of Mr G. C. Horstmann and Mr H. J. Oxley, to offer them shelter in vacant houses on high ground, and some availed themselves of the offer last night.

It may be hoped that the example thus set will be followed while there is yet time, and that much suffering may thus be avoided. Many owners of vacant houses on high land would, doubtless, be glad to place them at the service of the local authorities in such a time of need.

Gympie, Maryborough, and Bundaberg have all suffered more or less severely, but the state of the telegraph lines makes it impossible to get details at present. Mr Wragge's experiences on board the Buninyong off the Northumberland Islands, between Mackay and Keppel Bay, are thus described in a telegram sent by him to Brisbane yesterday:—"Passed through centre of terrible hurricane when off Northumberland group of islands; barometer at sea level and corrected about 28·60in. Providential escape, due to most skilful navigation; never seen such awful weather before."


Great activity prevailed at the wharves all day yesterday and throughout the night, when consignees and their agents were carting their goods to stores above flood level, in anticipation of the flood. Carts loaded with goods were to be seen in procession going from the several wharves to discharge their loads in places of safely. At Messrs D. L. Brown and Co.'s Eagle-street wharf a large quantity of salt and other merchandise, ex the ship Penthesilea, has been covered over for some time with tarpaulins, but yesterday the lumpers and carters were busily engaged removing it.

The same operations were going on at Howard Smith's and the A.U.S.N. Company's wharves, as well as the wharves at South Brisbane. At Parbury's wharf, South Brisbane, 2000 bales of wool, awaiting the arrival of the R.M.S. Tara have for some time been stacked in an open shed on the lower end of the wharf. Yesterday it was decided to load the wool into lighters, and this work was proceeded with yesterday afternoon and last evening.

At Webster's wharf they were also busy all night removing cargo which had been stored in the shed ex the barque Hulda. The steam ferry punt Brisbane stopped running for some time yesterday on account of the high water, as the approaches could not safely be entered.

At noon yesterday the water was about 18in. higher than it should have been as shown by the tide-tables, and the ebb set in fully an hour before the time for full tide. Last night, at the time of high water the level was about 6ft. below Howard Smith's wharf; but as stated yesterday the day tides are now naturally higher than the night. A heavy flood in the river must be expected. Persons therefore who have goods in low-lying places should follow the example set by the consignees who are having them removed from the wharves.

The gunboat Gayundah, which has been moored in mid-stream in the Garden Reach for some time, was berthed alongside the Gardens yesterday, so as to be clear of the strong current and debris which is likely to swoop round the Garden Point.  Messrs Scott, Dawson, and Stewart's, and Messrs D. L. Brown and Co.'s establishments were lit up last evening and a number of hands in each of the warehouses were busily engaged moving goods from the cellars to places of safety from flood waters.


The low-lying portions of the Deshon and Thompson Estates are now under water, and all the back yards of the premises in the vicinity of Kingfisher Creek are almost completely submerged. The water has risen over the road at the Burnett Swamp Bridge to a depth of several feet. At Coorparoo several paddocks are covered,and the lower portion of one paddock at the bottom of the Coorparoo Racecourse, the property of Mr McCann, has a good deal of water on it.

Norman Creek has overflowed its banks, and in some places is about eighty yards wide. Consequently the premises in its vicinity have been surrounded by water. This is especially the case in the neighbourhood of Stanley Bridge and Bridgewater-street Pocket, where the waters are rapidly rising, owing to the backing up of the storm-water by the tide.

The low-lying land between Cabbage-tree Creek and Nudgee, along the railway line, is covered with water, and the different creeks along the line are all bankers. The Swan Hill Estate is already suffering considerably from the overflow of Breakfast Creek. Yesterday morning at high tide the water had inundated many portions of the estate, and several houses were completely surrounded. In the afternoon the water had decreased slightly, though of course the decrease was only caused by the low tide, and the water again rose with the incoming night tide.

The main street of the estate, George-street, was even in the afternoon submerged in places. Several portions of the vacant land were covered with water. The creek was far below the level of the Bowen Bridge, but the Association Sports Ground was a sheet of water. Part of the Newmarket-road near the bus stables was covered, the flood coming from the direction of Swan Hill.

The residents of the Swan Hill Estate, though their houses were in many places completely isolated, did not appear to consider their position insecure, and there was no appearance of the houses being vacated. It is to be feared that by to-day many of the residents will have had to leave their homes.

At Kedron Brook Bridge the water has risen over the road about 2ft., and the buses have some difficulty in crossing the flooded portions. It was feared that communication with Enoggera by the main road would be cut off yesterday afternoon. Early in the morning the water at the Normanby Bridge was up to the flooring, and nearly so at the Three-mile Scrub Bridge. Before noon the water was rising steadily.

The Chinese gardens in the Enoggera and Ashgrove districts have already suffered severely from the flood-waters, and taking into consideration the great flow of water now running over the Enoggera reservoir and the certainty of the Breakfast Creek water being backed up by the river it is likely that the flood will assume serious proportions ere long.

The districts of Stratton and Newstead, in the Booroodabin Division, were in no imminent danger yesterday, but Mr Leney, clerk to the local board, took steps to secure the comfort of the residents in case of the waters swamping those districts.

Messrs G. C. Horstmann and H. J. Oxley were waited upon by Mr Leney, and, as a result of the interview, he was granted permission to utilise what is known as Lenneberg's Buildings, in Ann-street, belonging to Mr Horstmann, and a row of cottages in Teneriffe owned by Mr Oxley.

The buildings are at present untenanted, and were granted to Mr Leney for the use of any persons in the division who might be compelled to leave their homes, and admission can be obtained by applying at the board office. It is estimated that, if necessary, 100 persons can be housed in this way.

The force of the contact between the flood-waters of Breakfast Creek and the river is such as to cause heavy crested waves at the junction. In the afternoon yesterday the gale was blowing with great force up the Hamilton reach, but the boats belonging to the members of the Brisbane Sailing Club, moored off the Hamilton, appeared so far to have withstood its effects.


The weather at Cape Moreton has been very boisterous for the past few days, and yesterday morning a strong easterly gale was blowing and a high sea running. The schooner Sea Flower, which left Brisbane for the Tweed River on the 23rd January, returned to Cape Moreton on the 25th as the weather outside was too rough for the vessel to proceed on her voyage. She is still in Moreton Bay, being anchored off Bulwer.

The steamer Gabo, which left Brisbane for Townsville, via ports, on Tuesday, did not venture outside Cape Moreton, and she, too, anchored off Bulwer. After the Gabo had reached the Pile Light on Tuesday, the weather was so thick that Captain Ellis deemed it inadvisable to proceed further, and so anchored for the night. On the following morning, the vessel was got underway, but on arrival at Bulwer the weather was so thick that only about the length of the steamer was visible ahead, and Captain Ellis describes it as the worst he has ever known on the coast during his experience extending over ten years.

The Gabo was again anchored, and remained off Bulwer all Wednesday. Yesterday, as the provisions were getting rather low for the passage to Townsville in doubtful weather, it was considered advisable to return to Brisbane. The Gabo accordingly came up as far as the Hamilton, when the chief officer and the steward were landed, and drove up to Messrs Howard Smith and Sons' office to obtain the provisions. The Gabo was however ordered to proceed up to the wharf, where she arrived at 6 p.m. yesterday. It is not yet known when she will leave. Extra strong lines were fastened to her from convenient piles last evening in the event of a fresh in the river, and she is now as secure as ropes will make her.

The R.M.S. Tara, which left Woody Island for Brisbane on Tuesday, was not sighted at Cape Moreton until last evening, and it is considered that owing to the rough weather the mail boat is standing outside until a favourable opportunity offers for her to cross the Bar.

It is expected that she will enter the Bay this morning, and should the fresh in the river not be too great she will be assisted up the river to-day, and will berth at Parbury, Lamb, and Co.'s wharf, South Brisbane.

The Buninyong has met with rough weather up the coast, and she anchored on Monday off Percy Island, in Whitsunday Passage. She arrived at Keppel Bay on Wednesday morning at 7.30, and left for Brisbane at 12.30 p.m. She is believed to have anchored at the Bar last evening, and will come up the river this morning.

The steamer Glanworth, which left Brisbane for Maryborough and Bundaberg on Wednesday afternoon, has not yet got further than the Pile Light, where she anchored on Wednesday evening.

The Government steamer Pippo returned from Bulwer last evening and those on board state that the sea was the heaviest-known for the past four years, strong rain squalls making the atmosphere very thick. At the Bar were several steamers, including the Wodonga, from Cooktown, via ports, and the Konoowarra, from Sydney.