1893 Brisbane Flood Newspaper Report - 4 February 1893

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The special feature of yesterday in connection with the present disastrous weather was the steady advance in the height of the river and the strength of its current, and the persistency with which the rain fell. Once or twice the clouds lightened, giving promise of a break in the dull grey canopy, which for nearly a weak has shut out our view of sun and stars; but scarcely the smallest glint of blue was to be seen, and for the greater part of the time the showers, " more or less heavy" as the Weather Bureau has it, were driven violently before the strong southeast and easterly winds which have blown in gusts ever since the rain set in last Monday. For the twelve hours ended at 9 o'clock last night the rainfall at Wickham-terrace Observatory was 1·95in. The total rainfall for the week in Brisbane is scarcely more than 11in.

Carters and draymen have been busy day and night removing furniture from threatened houses and goods from the stores, and it may be hoped that in this way the damage in the city will be minimised; but the accounts reaching us from the Northward show that in the farming districts between here and Gympie, as well as on the goldfield itself, serious havoc must have been wrought, whilst we are still without details of the effects of the flood in Maryborough and Bundaberg, though evidently both towns have suffered severely.

Yesterday telegraphic communication with the head of the Brisbane became interrupted, but the latest wireswere to the effect that the flood there had risen to unprecedented height, and rain was still falling heavily.

Last night Brisbane became cut off from both telegraphic and railway communication, the break in both occurring at Goodna. It is supposed that there were 2ft. of water on the line when the Sydney mail train should have passed last night, and the telegraph line, which is much lower, was submerged early in the evening.

For the twenty-four hours ending 9 a.m. today the rainfall at Gold Creek registered 5·71in. The water is 1ft. 7in. over the bywash. At Enoggera the rainfall for the past twenty-four hours was 3·5in. The water is 2ft. 7in. over the bywash. The river at Mount Crosby Waterworks is up 60ft., and continues rising at the rate of 20in. an hour.

All the low-lying portions of Fortitude Valley are completely inundated. Two vacant allotments in James-street are completely submerged, and the water in places is now over the road. Various other low-lying places of this suburb (especially in the vicinity of the Waterloo Hotel) have suffered in a similar way, and the residents are all prepared for a general exodus if necessary. The old racecourse at New Farm is almost one sheet of water.

The Chinese gardens bordering the Ithaca Creek in the Enoggera and Ashgrove districts have for the most part been completely submerged. With the great volume of water coming down from the Enoggera reservoir it is anticipated that the flood will be the largest experienced in those districts for many years past. The flood water having covered the gardens for the last three days the Chinese gardeners' will be very heavy losers, for what vegetables are not swept away will be found to be rotten after the water has subsided.

The Enoggera and Musgrave roads are in a very bad state of repair, and the bus drivers are experiencing great difficulty in travelling their vehicles over them. It is not anticipated that the bus traffic on the Enoggera-road will be stopped, although at one time it was thought such would be the case in view of the rapid rising of the creek at the Normanby Bridge. With the slightest lull in the weather the water at this bridge falls rapidly owing to the great expanse of that country in this locality.

The water rose over the Bayswater-road on Thursday night and threatened several houses in low-lying situations in that district. The bell of the Milton Fire Brigade was rung, and on the members turning out they did excellent service in helping to remove families from houses threatened by the rising waters.

The flood was considerably higher last night, and many householders were compelled to desert their homes and seek shelter with neighbours on higher ground. All the low-lying ground around Milton was submerged, and the Fernberg-road became blocked during the afternoon.

Our Sandgate correspondent states that Wednesday's tide was the highest during the present spring tides, the rise being 7ft. 7in. On Thursday it was 7ft. 3in., and yesterday's tide 7ft.1in., but as the rainfall from 9 a.m. on Thursday till the same hour yesterday morning was 6.52in. there was a large flood coming down the creeks and adding to the volume of water.

On Friday morning at half tide, the sea was at the height of ordinary high tide. The waves were then dashing against the sea wall with great force and sending tons of water on the Esplanade Reserve. Old residents say they never remember such a long time of steady heavy rain at Sandgate as is now coming down and increasing in volume. The boats in Cabbagetree Creek are again swamped, and some damage has been done to one or two that have been driven ashore by the heavy winds.

None of the Brisbane ferries were running yesterday morning except the steam service at Edward-street. This ferry ceased running at 7 o'clock last evening, as it was not safe to continue it after dark.

The water on the Thompson Estate yesterday morning was not much higher than on Thursday, which was also the case on the road near the Burnett Swamp Bridge on the Logan-road, but before evening it had risen considerably. On the Deshon Estate, however, the water has risen considerably, and behind the Federal Butchering Company's promises the paddocks are completely inundated.

The water in the Bowen Bridge and Swan Hill districts rose considerably during Thursday night. Breakfast Creek is running a banker all round Bowen Bridge, and there is one stretch of water from the entrance to the Association Sports Ground across the creek to some distance on the other side. There is considerable water on the land to the left-hand side of the road, on the the town side of the bridge.

The low-lying portion of the Swan Hill Estate proper is already practically covered. The side streets can only be traced by the line of houses, and George-street, the main thoroughfare of this portion, is also nearly all under water. The water extends from the foot of the Children's Hospital hill right across the estate.

On Thursday night and yesterday morning about seven families moved to vacant houses near the estate, the flooring of their own houses being in some cases awash, and in others nearly so. There are some boats available on the estate, and others have been arranged for. The water at the bridge over the creek on the Kelvin Grove-road though very high did not this morning prevent traffic crossing the bridge.

The Albion flats are filling, but the water has not yet assumed dangerous proportions in this locality. The water was over the Kedron Brook Bridge last night, but had decreased this morning a little. Some portions of the Booroodabin district were beginning to feel the effects of the flood, and the land adjoining the gas works was to a large extent under water, at 1 p.m. The Breakfast Creek boat-sheds are nearly half under water, and the flow from the creek is increasing in strength.

In the eastern portion of the Deshon Estate all the low-lying lands have been covered, in some places to a depth of several feet, while some of the houses have been completely surrounded. Darragh's Paddock, or the East Woolloongabba Estate, is in a similar condition, while at Stanley Bridge the waters have risen above the decking of the bridge.

The land which is known as the Bridgewater Street Pocket is in some places covered to, the depth of more than 6ft., and several houses are completely isolated. The people who have houses in the vicinity of Norman Creek are shifting their goods to higher positions in the anticipation of a flood.


There has been no upward tide in the Brisbane River since high water on Thursday at noon, and the ebb has been increasing in force until at 12.30 p.m. yesterday it was running so rapidly that steamers could not proceed in the face of the current. The river rose rapidly yesterday morning. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. the water rose 8in., from 10 to 11 another 12in., and from 11 to 12, 20in. The water was then only about 12in. below the planking of the A.U.S.N. Company's old wharf.

The tide then was about full, and the water was entirely over the Aquarium Company's wharf and a number of the wharves at South Brisbane. Howard Smith's wharf, however, was a few feet above the level of the water. The river did not rise from 12.30 p.m. to 2 p.m., but fell slightly. It soon rose again, however, and has been rising over since.

At 8 p.m. yesterday the water was on the A.U.S.N. Company's Mary-street wharf. At half-past 1 o'clock this morning the river had risen to 18in. above the deck of Howard Smith and Sons wharves at Petrie's Bight.

The steamers Wodonga, Konoowarra, Buninyong, and Glanworth are all anchored in the river below Kangaroo Point, and tenders were yesterday plying from the wharves to the steamers conveying the passengers ashore. The tug Beaver, with the Tara's passengers, anchored below Kangaroo Point yesterday afternoon.

It is not yet decided when Howard Smith's or the A.U.S.N. Company's boats will leave for the South, but as soon as opportunity offers they will steam up to the wharves, where they will be berthed securely. H.M.S. Paluma, which has been berthed at the Arsenal wharf for some time, was moored alongside the gardens yesterday morning, and was assisted across the stream by the tug Boko. The Lucinda also changed her moorings yesterday morning, as she was in the track of the debris, opposite the Dry Dock. She is now moored in midstream, opposite the Queen's Wharf.

Consignees and others are still busy carting their goods to places of safety, and a number of the residents of South Brisbane are profiting by the experience gained during the last big flood, and are removing their furniture, while others who are waiting till the last have their effects packed up ready to be removed should the occasion warrant. All last night vans were running about with bells ringing in place of lights, and were carting goods to places of safety.

The warehouses in Queen-street, opposite Messrs Alfred Shaw and Co.'s, are being used as receiving sheds, and a number of empty premises on high levels are being used for the same purpose. A large quantity of flour, wool, fruit, and other cargo was loaded into the steamer Gabo yesterday, so as to place it out of reach of the flood, while the Northern mails shipped by this vessel on Tuesday were taken out and returned to the Post Office.

At Toowong at 8 o'clock last evening the level was still 11ft, below the floodmark reached in 1890, but it rose rapidly during the night, and before morning had crossed Gailey-road.

On inquiry last evening we learned that at the Queensport Meatworks there was no water on the flats except from the local rains, and that the river was 7ft. or 8ft. below the decking of the wharf, the works being well above the water level.

Regarding the boats of the Sailing Club at the Hamilton, we have only heard of one slight accident. This was caused by the yacht Grace dragging her moorings on Thursday night, and fouling the Hinemoa, the only damage done being the breaking of the bobstay of the latter yacht. Since then the larger craft have been shifted to safer anchorages, and the smaller ones hauled up, so that no further damage is likely to occur.


Some of the steamers coming in yesterday morning had exciting experiences in rounding the Toombul Point. As soon as they rounded this point the current washed them over towards the north shore. The Konoowarra narrowly escaped the wharf. The Arawatta was not so fortunate, however, being washed right on it, causing, it is feared, considerable damage.

As to the real extent nothing can be said, as the water is some depth on the structure. The steamer then moored to the wharf, but cast off shortly afterwards and steamed back to the Hamilton, where she anchored.

Mary Street
Norman Park
Newstead Albion
Deshon Estate
Milton flood
New Farm Racecourse
James Street
Mt Crosby