Maryborough during the major flood of January 27-30, 2013

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Mary River floods Maryborough

When this flood in the Mary River peaked about 300 homes and 150 business in Maryborough were impacted by flood waters. The flood was preceded by a tornado in the town during the storm event.


The peak of 10.7M was reached at 8am on Tuesday 29th January 2013, and this photo was taken at 3pm that afternoon. Both Lamington Bridge (Ferry St) and Granville Bridge (Tiger St) are submerged in this photo. All industrial sites and homes in The Pocket were flooded.


A major flood in Maryborough is regarded as one that exceeds 9.0M on the river gauge, and The Pocket (pictured) is always flooded at that height.


The record of flooding in Maryborough includes other major floods in 1992, 1974, 1968, 1955 (11.28M), 1898, twice in 1893 (the first one peaked at 12.27M; the second a fortnight later at 9.89M), 1890, 1887, 1875, 1870, 1864 and 1857. Both the 1893 and 1955 floods can only be described as catastrophes. One of the major reasons for the 1955 flood being such a disaster, was that there had been no major floods from 1898 until 1955, almost 60 years, within many minor floods only, in the intervening years. During that time, Maryborough had grown substantially, with greater investment in infrastructure and in CBD retailing. The CBD was flooded in 1955, and the city was stunned!


PHOTO: David Stehbens

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Comments (11)

bdeh on February 7, 2013

Wow, that's awful to see Ian. Greetings Berend

Ian Stehbens on February 7, 2013

The catchment gathers a lot of water to send downstream to Maryborough. It is a sad city once again, for this is its 3rd highest flood since the 1893 super flood:

1893 12.27M

1955 11.23M

1974 10.95M

2013 10.7M

Maryborough was established on its present site particularly during the 1860s and 1870s, as a coastal river port. It has grown into a sizeable city over the years, but the major floods like this one stun the city nevertheless, coming 60, 20 and 40 years apart. Each flood of this order, therefore, impacts a different generation of people.

The other major coastal river catchments in Queensland are even larger than the Mary catchment: Brisbane, Burnett, Burdekin and Fitzroy. The Burnett that discharges through Bundaberg has just sent down the greatest flood in its known history, and Bundaberg is reeling!

Thanks for your intetrest and understanding, Berend. It is awful.


bdeh on February 8, 2013

How to prevent this kind of floods Ian? Must be hard for those who's property is damaged. Greetings Berend

Fritz77 on February 8, 2013

Looks nasty. Got married at the courthouse there in December. Beautiful building and park in a beautiful country town (on of QLD's nicest I think). Hope recovery's going o.k., Fritz

Ian Stehbens on February 9, 2013

You raise an interesting topic, Berend,

This kind of flood cannot be prevented, and most interventions such as dams tend to increase the damage done eventually. The main reason for this is that people and authorities downstream put undue trust in the dam's potential to alleviate a major flood, so when the capacity of the dam is exceeded all the extra development that has taken place is then inundated. USA flood prevention works on the Mississippi have demonstrated that the increase is often as high as 10:1, that is for every $1 spent on trying to alleviate floods the damage bill is $10.

The best response is found in ensuring land use adjustments take place, so that areas that have a potential to flood are used in ways that can tolerate or survive a flood, and not for residential purposes.

But humans are willing to take risks, so allowable risks should only be those where the total cost to the wider community is recognized.

This has been the trend in Maryborough, I believe, and The Pocket (pictured), for example, has been used mostly for sugarcane farming, with residences and most industries moving out to higher ground.

But it will be debated by engineers and accountants, and various government authorities, environmentalists, and residents "long in to the night".


Ian Stehbens on February 9, 2013

Greetings Fritz. Maryborough is indeed one of Queensland's nicest country towns. It is interesting to learn that you have such a special attachment to the place.

Maryborough, Gympie and Bundaberg have all been impacted by flooding, Bundaberg being the worst affected. I think many people there are in shock - not only has the flood height there been unprecedented - but entire houses were swept away, and tornadoes touched down in the coastal areas at Bargara and Burrum Heads.

This flood will change Bundaberg!



ebi lutze on February 9, 2013

Hi IanFrom the Group A1-Unique Australia. A very sad event and you documented it with you photos. L Thank you also for your info,I like it as a document. Regards Ebi

Fritz77 on February 9, 2013

Hi Ian, very interesting what you said about flood prevention measures. From what I've seen both in QLD and in other parts of the world I have to agree. Often the problem is that after a few good years the memory of natural disasters tends to fade and that is the time when the wrong developments are put in the wrong spots ... until the next desaster happens. Maryborough and Gympie having been hit many times even in recent year probably know how to deal with these events better than other places and you photo hows very well that development in Marybourough seems to be concentrated in the safer areas. I really do feel for the people of Bundaberg, who have been hit harder than they would have ever expected. And Toowoomba 2011 shows, that often the places where natural desasters come out of the blue tend to be the worst affected and even though everything's been done right and no-one's to blame tragedy can still occur.

Ian Stehbens on February 13, 2013

I always appreciate your encouragement, interest and thoughts, Ebi. And so it is once again.



Ian Stehbens on February 13, 2013

Dear Fritz,

Exactly. And when people suffer, our caring and supporting is the true essence of humanity. You have probably heard of Brisbane's 'Mud Army', which is a large scale example of the way communities pull together and become resilient through tough times.


Fritz77 on February 13, 2013

Very true Ian. These events often bring out the best in people and unfortunately sometimes the worst. I really hope the insurances want give people too much of a hard time this time, but that might be wishful thinking, Fritz

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  • Uploaded on February 7, 2013
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    by Ian Stehbens