Monday 27th February
Somehow the big storm missed us overnight. The huge lightning display went on for hours but there was no rain. That is not something I can say for other towns in a 100klm radius. Some got an absolute drenching, two months rain in 6 hours. We are pleased we moved during the night just to be on the safe side. The weather forecast is rain for the remainder of the week.
With rain all about and all grounds becoming wet and muddy we are better off back in the relative dry of the Culcairn Caravan Park. We passed through the town of Yarrawonga, the great wine producing area. Yarrawonga looks a new and wealthy town and worth a look around. Alas not today. Next was another wine town of Rutherglen but we turned off a few klms from the town to take the bridge over the Murray River into the NSW town of Corowa, The birthplace of Australian Federation.
Once again this is an old town with many of the original buildings restored and still being used today. Although we felt like exploring we were limited by time and weather to have a drive around town before pointing WWWGO towards Culcairn again. First we crossed the historic, one lane, timber John Foord Bridge to the sister town of Wahgunyah on the Victorian side of the Murray River. We had lunch at a riverside park until it started to rain.
All the towns we passed through this morning are attractive both historically and architecturally and we would enjoy visiting them again. There are several festivals in the Murray Valley area over the next month so we may still have a chance to visit. Our location in Culcairn means we are no more than 2 hours from these towns by TERIOS.
On reflection it seems there are more towns and people squeezed into Victoria than say NSW where distances between towns becomes greater, especially the further north you travel. Compared to Queensland where distances between towns is huge and measured in hundreds of klms instead of 20 or 30klms.
We travelled through Howlong and followed the Murray River back into Albury then back onto the Hume Freeway before connecting with the Olympic Highway and 30 klms later we were back in Culcairn.
Our favourite spot beside the creek was already taken by other campers. One of them leaves in the morning so we parked temporarily overnight.
Tuesday 28th February
It started to rain overnight. Tentatively at first but getting heavier and heavier. By morning we found two leaks in our ceiling and outside, little rivulets of water moving past our door. The water was deeper than my shoes!
I have no idea where the leaks are starting from but I cannot do anything about them until it is dry by which time I cannot trace the leaks anyway.
Billabong Creek is a large system and carries lots of water long distances, following the Murray in some respects. Heavy rain in Holbrook, a town to the East, will cause local nuisance flooding but due to the rubbish in the creek will result in flooding here in Culcairn and further west if the rain persists. The weather forecast suggests the rain will be with us all week so we moved from our temporary spot by the creek to the level campsites on top of the hill. We also get a nice flat concrete slab to set up our outside furniture…when the rain stops and when we can put the awning out.
Today was our anniversary so in celebration we drove to Albury where we had an early Chinese meal then saw the movie, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Wednesday 29th February
The rain has persisted all day and at times became heavier. The leaks have not recurred during the day. However, our once perfect TV reception has deteriorated to NO SIGNAL. Tracing everything I found the antenna booster light is not umm err lit. According to the user manual it is caused by a short in the cable and power will be restored once the short is cleared.
Hmmm! The only place I think there could be a short is at the top of the antenna. Because the antenna is frequently raised and lowered, perhaps over time the connection has worn. There is only one way to know for sure. That is, to climb on the roof and check the masthead. That job will have to wait until tomorrow when there is daylight and a break in the rain.
Today the park manager asked the other two campers in the lower section beside the creek to move to higher ground as she had been told to expect the creek levels to rise in the next day or two.
Thursday 1st March
The creek rose during the night and the roof leak has returned.
The caravan park manager received a phone call from people at Holbrook 29 klms to the east. They had lots of rain overnight, some streets have nuisance flooding and all water is draining into Billabong Creek. We should see the creek rise a good deal further over the next 24 hours.
After climbing onto the roof, in wet weather gear, I could not find an obvious antenna fault but did notice the coaxial cable is cracked in a few places (from years in the sun. I covered those with black electricians tape but the tv reception is still almost nil. Another camper has mentioned his normally perfect reception has also deteriorated.
Friday 2nd March
The creek rose another metre and a half during the morning but remained at that level for the remainder of the day. Although today has been rain free, the forecast is for heavy rain to return tomorrow. According to the news, 75% of NSW is in flood or under flood watch. We are dry and comfortable but on the news we saw, places we visited last week are already flooded. Wangaratta, Yarrawonga, Rutherglen, and surrounding areas.
Hmmm! Our little visit was well timed.
Saturday 3rd March
This time last year WWWGO was parked at Traveston and I visited beaches in brilliant sunshine along the Sunshine Coast. One place I visited was Inskip Point,
Fisherman with 4WD on sandspit at Inskip Point
a little north of Rainbow Beach. The CO-PILOT was in Canada.
This time 2010 I was in Airlie Beach and surprise, surprise, the CO-PILOT was in Canada. It was raining, much like today, with gradually heavier rain during the day.
In 2009 we were in Airlie Beach, the CO-PILOT was at home and we were cleaning our motorhome (the Coaster) in preparation for the trip to Tasmania. At the same time, cyclone Hamish was threatening the coast and it was raining. Like today, the rain got heavier and heavier.
Today the Billabong Creek rose about 2.5m and dropped a metre by late afternoon.
Then the rain started again. It rained and rained.
Sunday 4th March
Woke to constant rain and the leak in the roof continues to drip.
Billabong Creek started to rise about mid-morning. By mid-afternoon it had broken its bank and water was spreading out across the area we were camped in for the last few weeks.
Our original campsite beside Billabong Creek next to the picnic table.
Same campsite but now underwater.
The water level rose quickly and submerged the picnic table which was once beside WWWGO.
The picnic table soon to be 4m underwater.
By now it had stopped raining and the sun made a welcome appearance, driving the humidity level up to 70%.
Before long, the picnic table on the far side of the lower level campground was surrounded by brown muddy debris laden floodwater. Only the table top was showing. The SES depot on the other side of the railway line set off a number of alarms, calling volunteers to action. Soon lots of cars, utes and trucks were arriving for the SES assembly.
The childrens playground became an aquatic playground and great for skimboarders.
This no longer funny.
Our current campsite before the flood arrived.
The water level has come halfway up the hill behind us.
Our new campsite with floodwaters quickly approaching.
I am not sure, if we had to evacuate, where we could go. The road south to Albury is lower and has water across in several places. There are fewer cars and trucks coming from that direction. West to Walla Walla and Walbundrie is the same. Walla Walla is already cut off. North to Wagga Wagga and the road is cut at The Rock and Uranquinty and evacuations have already occurred in those towns. The road east to Holbrook has several low level bridges across the Billabong. Lockhart was evacuated early this morning.
Lightpole and meter box in the lower campsite. Soon the water will be halfway to the light.
We packed up ready to leave if necessary but there is really nowhere to go. The flood peaked at 9.3m at Morven and expected through here at midnight. No trains have passed through in the last two hours.
The same lightpole at 10pm shortly before the peak.
At midnight the peak was just a few metres from our wheels.
Whew! What a relief.
Well, we hope it was the peak. I’m off to bed.