242. Sunday 11th March 2011. Culcairn, floods and immigrants…

Monday 5th March

Just because the flood peaked somewhere around Sunday midnight does not mean the floodwaters instantly drop.

No siree.

We watched TV for another hour to ensure the water was not continuing to rise.

The light-pole shone its eerie light, reflected red brown in the water all night which was helpful for our restless sleep. We would wake, look out the bedroom window and could see the water level by the reflected light then drop back into another light sleep.

On waking we now have water views out of each window. We also have the sounds of running water to soothe and relax us. The water is still only a few metres from our rear wheels.

At 7am road and rail traffic had not yet returned to normal. Further north at Wagga Wagga which is on the Murrumbidgee River, thousands fled the town according to the following

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8429691/thousands-flee-wagga-wagga-floodwaters

Tuesday 6th March

The water level dropped by a metre overnight.

We are so grateful the water did not inundate the town or the caravan park. We saw video footage of other towns in the lower half of NSW and the top half of Victoria where homes are underwater. How sad it must be to face the loss of just about everything and the clean-up which follows. Today 5,000 people in Wagga Wagga 72 klms to our north are being evacuated as the Murrumbidgee River is also in flood. Further to our west, the Billabong Creek drains into the Edward River which then drains into the Murray as does the Murrumbidgee. Forecasts are that people near the lower Murray will face flooding until the end of April, even if no rain falls in their area.

By nightfall the water level had dropped a further several metres.

We noticed the huge number of “money spiders” now inhabiting the area. Silken threads are hanging from almost every outside structure, trees and bushes. These tiny spiders about double the size of a match head are quick and can leap what seems enormous distances comparative to its size.  Thankfully we saw no snakes trying to escape the flood.

Wednesday 7th March

Billabong Creek is now almost back to its usual size. The peak reached 9.3m in around 12 hours but took near 60 hours to recede. Lots of undergrowth is flattened and the lower part of the park is not yet opened to campers. The electrical outlets and water pipes have to be tested before the all clear can be given. In the meantime we have become used to being sited on the high part of the park. We have one of the better sites and if the rain returns we will be drier here than beside the creek.

Thursday 8th March.

Today has been a day of contrasts and emotional swings.

The CO-PILOT had a lecture to attend in Albury.

In previous posts I have mentioned the old buildings in Albury. It is about time I shared some photos. This was the original Post Office in Albury.

I elected to drive her and spend some time exploring.

Which Bank is this?

During the drive I heard the flood reports from all over south western NSW and north western Victoria. Although the floods have passed some towns, other towns downstream are still waiting on the peak to reach them. Today I heard reports from people mopping up after the floods passed their town. Other reports were of towns in the middle of a flood crisis and still other towns who are waiting on the peak to reach them which could be days or even weeks away.

Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society. They dont make buildings like this anymore.

Albury Courthouse. Look at the date it was built.

The original town hall now used as an art gallery. Again they dont make em like this anymore. I quite like the flag tower.

After dropping the CO-PILOT in Albury I drove over the border to Wodonga in Victoria

The original Hume Highway ran across Gateway Island and into Wodonga. This little oasis, Byrne Lagoon, is on the island.

then a loop back into NSW via the Hume Highway and out to visit the Hume Dam

The Hume Dam on the Murray River.

which creates the Hume Lake on the Murray River.

Looking back over Lake Hume from the dam wall.

A short distance from the dam wall is the original quarry where much of the rock used in the wall was extracted.

The Bethanga Bridge as it crosses the Murray River to Bellbridge. At this point the Murray drains into Lake Hume.

Leaving the dam I again crossed the Murray into Victoria to the tiny settlement of Bonegilla (aboriginal for “meeting of the waters”) where the confluence of three rivers, Murray, Mitta Mitta and Kiewa meet. Also located here are the remnants of Block 19 of the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre,

Corrugated iron artwork at the entrance to Bonegilla Migrant Centre Experience, Block 19.

once part of a much larger 27 block establishment. Some parts of the original “blocks” across the road have been retained by the Army and are now upgraded and modernised and known as Latchford Barracks.

Bonegilla is pronounced Bone Gilla. Not Bonney Gilla or Bonna Gilla as some have pronounced it. I grew up believing it was pronounced Bonney Gilla.

Block 19 buildings.

I was interested to look at the migrant centre for three reasons;

1. When I was a teenager and early adult life I had visited people in other camps at Pagewood and Fairy Meadow so I had seen a part of what life was like for those migrants.

2. I had experienced a similar life when for 4 years my parents and us four children lived in a two bedroom section of an ex WWII US Army Barracks at Riverwood in NSW. We lived in these settlements along with thousands of other hopeful families waiting allocation of a rental or purchase property from the Housing Commission of NSW. The barracks were built of walls and roof of asbestos cement sheets. The walls and roof did not meet to allow ventilation. The walls and ceiling were not lined. The Bonegilla huts were similar design but made from corrugated iron. Our huts were hot in summer and very cold in winter. The Bonegilla experience was probably worse.

3. Finally I spent 2 years in the Army and experienced first-hand the same rough barrack conditions of corrugated iron “dongas” and a long walk to latrines, washhouse, laundry and mess hall. Sometimes the walk was in mud.

The migrants would have experienced further difficulties in the shape of being thousands of miles from their homeland in Europe, not knowing the language and being a long way from shops.  More information is available here    http://www.bonegilla.org.au/      and is also worth a visit to this Heritage Listed property. Some migrants only stayed at the camp a few days but often families stayed for several years. A recurring comment from previous dwellers was the complaint about food. Although plentiful and nobody went hungry, the taste and smell of mutton several times a week was more than some migrants could handle and still will not eat mutton or lamb for that matter. Although there was a great deal to be seen and I spent nearly two hours wandering around the eight buildings on display I took very few photographs.

Single Mens Quarters. Each room was about 4m x 4m which allowed for sparse furniture of an army bed, table, wardrobe and a chair. They were also supplied with pillows, towels, sheets, 3 blankets and cutlery and crockery.

In all, I crossed into Victoria and back into NSW three times during the day.

Friday 9th March

Lots of flooding in centres to the north and west of us.

Saturday 10th March.

Sadly, the WOW Sight & Sound group of stores has gone into receivership. They are having closing down sales at all their stores. Although sad as the situation is, I drove to Lavington, near Albury to grab a discounted purchase or two. The CO-PILOT has always wanted a pocket camera and we also needed another external hard drive to store our recorded movies and photographs. The current external drives are almost full as they are also used as backup of old files.

The prices have only been discounted by 10% but if I wait until the discount increases, the chances of stock availability reduces. That said, I bought a Sony Cyber Shot pocket camera. It is smaller than a pack of cigarettes and weighs only 43grams. It has a 5x zoom and 16.2 megapixel capture and includes a HD video and Dolby stereo. Of course I can go on and on about the specifications but suffice to say I am happy with the purchase. Now comes the reading of the manual and experimenting with still and video shooting.

Hmmm! The CO-PILOT said she thinks we need another computer. Something smaller but as functional as our current laptop… a Toshiba Satellite L500

Hmmm! I did notice a Toshiba Netbook N500 with 250 Gb and three USB ports. Perhaps the price will come down more if I wait another week….Under $300 would be good.

Sunday 11th March

The CO-PILOT went to work. The sun shone. All day reports of floodwaters moving westwards and inundating towns, continues.

Amazing that although they have not had rain, the floods which rushed through here last week are now rushing through somewhere else.

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6 Responses to “242. Sunday 11th March 2011. Culcairn, floods and immigrants…”

  1. cliftontravels Says:

    Hi Frank.
    You perpetuate an annoyance of mine regarding reporting of flood levels. News readers parrot away with meaningless 11 meters, 7 meters, 13 meters etc. but meters above what? BOM QLD states that a river level is quoted as above it’s lowest dry spell level but reports do not quote the normal or average level. Hence a river with a normal level (depth) of 4 meters when quoted with a flood peak of 5.2 meters has actually risen just 1.2 meters above normal but of course that does not sound as sensational or dramatic.

    NSW of course is different and quotes flood levels the same as all other levels relative to mean sea level.

    Flood levels are provided as a level relative to Australian Height Datum (AHD). AHD is the reference point for all elevations on the ground. In Australia this reference point is generally mean sea level which is taken as 0 metres AHD. All flood levels, floor levels and ground levels are provided in metres AHD. For example, if the floor level of your house is 6.7m AHD and the height of floodwaters for the 100-year flood is 7.2m AHD, the depth of water would equal 0.5m (7.2m AHD -6.7m AHD).

    Again the flood measurement is meaningless without the normal level. I do wish that flood levels were reports as ‘meters above normal or average’.

    Enjoying your blog. Some wonderful old architecture this week.

    Cheers, Geoff.

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Geoff, I will try to avoid adding more to your annoyance except to say that after the floodwater receded I walked to the rail bridge and was able to access the bank near the pylons. The SES had cut a path as well as floodwater flattening all the undergrowth. Two pylons have markers on them. Both are in the water not on land. One yellow marker and a white marker. What they both mean is beyond me except to say they both end at 10metres at the bottom most level of the bridge carriageway. 9.3 metres is clear on the marker but the zero part was unsighted, either because of debris, growth or because it was underwater. I suspect it was underwater. I suspect it is the normal dry creek bottom. Either way WWWGO would be washed down the creek by the flood current. The power pole shown in two photos should give an indication of the depth. The fuse box is exactly 3.3m from the ground and the water level was easily another 2m above that. The ground slopes away from the light pole towards the creek bank. The fall is close to half a metre. So, measuring from the creek bank, the water level was at least 5.8m above the bank. When we were camped there for several weeks the flowing creek was perhaps 3 metres below the bank. However the measurements are carried out, it was a lot of scary water.

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  2. Margaret Clifton Says:

    Was thinking of you guys all week. Glad to hear that u didn’t have to move far and the waters didn’t get u. Love Marg C xx

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Thanks Margaret, yes we were lucky especially as so many places were not so fortunate. We visited towns in the upper Murray yesterday and flood waters had left debris throughout the towns. None of the towns were reported in the TV or radio except that the “Upper Murray” was reported as flood free. My observation and reports and photos from locals tells a different story. The tiny town of Walwa had photos taken two days before on display at the general store.

      Like

  3. David Edgar Says:

    looking at your photos and comments this week sure took me back to my childhood. mahon pool, maroubra, coogee etc. for a major world city sydney has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and leisure activities. dave just had his first foray to wintermoon. he is keen to camp there next year with you guys. what do you reckon ????? we will hire a camper/trailer from his friend. glad to see you are enjoying your travels. thinking of you both . love shan

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Shan, good to hear from you. I wanted to include Mahon Pool to not only recall my youth but stir memories in others.
      I have put the suggestion of going to 2013 Wintermoon in our possibility diary but as you know our plans change constantly. That said, we would both love to be at the next Wintermoon. It will be given serious consideration.

      Like

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