1893 Brisbane Flood Newspaper Report - 6 February 1893

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The fall in the level of the flood waters which commenced at 9 o'clock last evening continued during the night, and to the relief of everybody early this morning it was seen that they had gone down 2ft. or 3ft. They continued to subside rapidly throughout the forenoon, and by 12 o'clock had fallen 3ft. 9in. The day broke as dull and as dismal as could be imagined, with a drizzling rain and a heavy-looking sky.

Fortunately, however, and to the immense relief of everybody, at 9 o'clock breaks appeared in the sky, and the sun made its appearance for the first time during the past seven or eight days. This improvement continued, and by 10.30 a.m. it was apparent that fine weather had again set in.


The worst fears which were entertained for the safety of the Victoria Bridge have been realised, as we have already briefly announced for it is our painful duty to record the fact that the structure has been completely wrecked. The disaster took place about 4 o'clock this morning, at which time there was a crowd gathered on the dry land at the bridge approaches.

Gallantly as the structure stood against the enormous weight of water rushing against it all day, when it was wrecked its shrift was short. The first portion to go was the second or third span, where the flood waters had probably been running the strongest.

There was one loud crash, which shook the very earth, and made the surrounding buildings shake in their foundations; one convulsive heave, and the wrecked portion went down the river. Soon other pieces followed it, until before half an hour had elapsed fully one-half of the bridge had disappeared.

The waters did their work well. There was no disjointed masonry left standing; no twisted ironwork and broken woodwork to mark the spot where the structure once stood. There was not a vestige left. The bridge had broken off almost right in the centre, as sharp and as clean as it could have been. It is impossible to say at the present time what has become of the wrecked portion of the structure beyond that it is down the river. There is not a vestige of it to be seen at present, but it is pretty certain that so huge and weighty a mass cannot have gone very far.

As a result of this calamity South Brisbane is literally isolated, and will be isolated from the city for some time to come. It will even be impossible for some time to come to ascertain what damage has been wreaked by the flood in South Brisbane.

With the destruction of the bridge the telegraph and the telephone wires went, so that communication will have to be carried on by means of boats, and it is scarcely necessary to say that in the present turbulent state of the river such a thing as that is hazardous, if not impossible.

Of all the many serious things which have happened since the flood set in the destruction of the bridge is the worst. The money loss is great. It cost something like £110,000 to build the structure, and with those figures in one's mind let any one walk to the head of Queen Street and viewing the wrecked structure estimate for himself what it will cost to replace it.


At Bowen Bridge to-day the body of a man was found entangled in a tree near the bank of Breakfast Creek. The man had apparently been carried down by the flood waters, and he had evidently got hold of the tree and, while trying to keep himself as far as possible above the waters, been drowned. The road bridge over the North Pine River has been carried away.


Messrs Howard Smith and Sons' steamer Konoowarra, which broke from her moorings in midstream near Kangaroo Point yesterday morning and drifted on to the grounds of a private residence at the foot of Merthyr Road, New Farm, was this morning safely taken off and again anchored in midstream, without sustaining any damage.

The fears which were entertained yesterday as to the safety of the steamer Gabo at Messrs Howard Smith and Sons' wharf have now been dispelled. The steamer, of course, is still high above the goods-sheds, but she is fastened in such a manner that she cannot drift on to the sheds, and as the waters subside she will drift on with it into her proper place—the river. The steamers Buninyong, Konoowarra, and Wodonga are still anchored below Kangaroo Point.


On the south or Oxley side of the river from Indooroopilly the principal sufferers from the flood so far have been Mr J. P. Wilson and Mr Whitehouse, At about 11 p.m. on Saturday Mr Whitehouse saw his house and furniture carried away downstream, and a few hours later Mr Wilson's very pretty residence also floated away and was sucked under the bridge.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday the house of the ferryman, Mr Dalrymple, lurched sideways two or three times and floated downstream. The furniture had been removed early in the day and put upon the ferry punt; but during the night the punt broke from her moorings and dashed against the bridge, and was hopelessly wrecked. These cases are, however, only a few in which people have lost every stick of furniture and every garment except those they were wearing.

This morning Mr H. Tonks, of Beak and Tonks, electricians, connected a telephone with the telegraph wire at Chelmer, and conveyed news to Indooroopilly of the safety of people on Oxley Point, and obtained replies as to friends on this side. He reported all safe at Chelmer.

victoria bridge destruction
victoria bridge