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©2013-16 Grant Da Costa

Bellingen Floods 23 February 2013

A massive low pressure system crossed the New South Wales mid-north coast on the night of Friday 22 February. Cyclonic winds tossed down trees and dumped 300 to 500 mm of rain around the Bellingen shire. The Bellinger (yes, that is with an ‘r’ just to confuse things) River came roaring down overnight, peaking at 9 metres at Lavenders Bridge in the heart of Bellingen. On the Saturday morning I walked the township to capture these photos which, much to my amazement, included a ute floating down Waterfall Way with people in it, and the SES going to the rescue.

The view of the flood from the front drive was impressive (left).

First off, check our property and our neighbour’s for damage. The heavy steel cover off their BBQ ended up on our garage roof next to a hole punched through the tiles by a branch off their camphor laurel tree (right).

There were lots of branches down in their yard (left).

But we found worse in Hewitt Park, across the road from us. The trees there were torn and tossed about like pick-up-sticks (right).

The full extent of the massive flood became apparent as we walked east along Coronation Street (left). Waterfall Way had vanished.

Fortunately the dairy farmer had moved his cows from the river flats across the road to the hillside paddock the day before (upper right).

The old dairy was beginning to look precarious (lower right).

Then we noticed a Holden ute floating down Waterfall Way, with people on the roof (left).

Before long, the SES arrived in a boat to pick them up (right).

Some people from out of town think that Bellingen is flood-prone as it occasionally features on the national news after a big deluge. In reality, as you will see from the photos, even a huge flood like this causes little more than inconvenience since most of the town is high-set. Also, because the valley is relatively steep and narrow, the water drops rapidly and is soon gone once it stops raining, which is very different to other coastal areas of NSW to the north and south, and inland, where vast flat flood plains remain inundated for days or weeks, and homes and businesses are protected from the rivers only by a levee bank. Now, to the photos…

The viewing platform at the end of Church Street, in the heart of the cafe strip, provides a great outlook over the normally peaceful river. Somewhere down there is a park (below left). Being market day, we should be walking down this path (below centre) to the Showgrounds - not today. The roof of the picnic shelter in Jarrett Park is just visible in the centre of the photo (below right).   NEXT PAGE>>>