2.26pm, Tuesday 11th January 2011, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Barossa Valley
Hi all – we’ve had a lot of folks from outside Australia get in touch and ask us about the flooding up in Queensland – so I’ve used the phone and trekked up the Queensland coast today, talking to some of our people in the flooded or about to flood areas. Hopefully this will give you a bit of an idea of how our people are faring. So starting in Brisbane – here we go:
Our Brisbane office and warehouse in Oxley, which is one of the suburbs on flood warning, has been closed from today, and everyone is looking after their families and homes for as long as it takes for the Brisbane River to flood and subside. Some of the team live within a few hundred yards of the river, and they have prepared as well as they can as that level is coming up and set to coincide with a king tide over the weekend. We just hope that everyone stays safe – ‘things’ can be replaced – people can’t!
Outside Brisbane to the west and up into the mountains of the Great Divide – yesterday’s devastating flash flooding at Toowoomba has left folks totally shellshocked – they’re at 2000 feet above sea level and how a 6 foot wall of water came from nowhere and belted through the main street – no one can quite figure that out. Our man who looks after Toowoomba – Steele – was due to do his calls up there tomorrow so lucky for us at least he didn’t get caught up in it all. Our mates the Coorey family with The Spotted Cow hotel had 2 feet of water sweep through the whole place – including the brand new dining room – and will be part of the huge cleanup – but it’s just everything! There are roads that have been lifted by the sheer power of the water and aren’t even usable. Another one of our customers – Lyn at The Pink Peppercorn – said that a 3 foot wall of water flipped cars along the road out the front of the cafe like toys. We were there two weeks before Christmas having breakfast after the Fibber Magee dinner the night before … and it’s just not something you can get a picture of – because it’s so high up in the Hills! Hopefully it’s a freak occurrence and Toowoomba will be back on its feet sooner rather than later.
Between Brisbane and Toowomba is the Lockyer Valley – fruit and veg bowl of Queensland – and that’s being evacuated or flooding as I write. **Last year we worked in Toowoomba with a Rare & Fine Wine Dinner at The Downs Club, and then we drove down the back of the Great Dividing Range, through Esk to get to the Gold Coast and the next event. We stopped at an excellent bakery in Esk and had fabulous pies and tarts … and now that whole town is under water. It’s just heartbreaking.
Travelling north from Brisbane, our gal on the Sunshine Coast – Jayney – reckons they had 5 inches of rain (125 mls) last night, and it hasn’t shown any sign of stopping yet. She reckons the neighbourhood is building an Ark just in case! She hasn’t seen continuous rain like it in all her time on the Coast – she looks after all the ground up to Bundaberg – and isn’t game to head out into it at all today. They won’t flood at Mooloolaba, but it’s very dangerous days on the roads.
Further north from Brisbane is where they’re really hit hard. Rockhampton is a mess, the water is now just sitting, and our man in Far North Queensland – Jason – tells us that it’s not just being cut off and out of supplies – it’s the mosquitoes. They’re in plague proportions and just scratching a bite is dangerous. Townsville was drowned in bucketting rain which has eased, and supermarket shelves are starting to be restocked, but the locals are desperately hoping that they won’t get any cyclones – they’re only just going into their ‘wet’ season and are overdue – because that will knock them over.
It’s just water water everywhere up North at the moment – and for us here in the Barossa Valley where the average rainfall for the whole year is 20 odd inches – it’s just impossible to fathom this much water dropping out of the sky non stop.
So for everyone in Queensland and Northern New South Wales – we want you to stay safe, and we’ll do what we can with the mopping up afterwards.