Sandy Hook Ski Club roof at the peak of the flood.
Sandy Hook Ski Club roof at the peak of the flood. Tracy Olive BUNTRA

Regional areas also suffering

WHILE the spotlight has shone on Bundaberg's disaster, detailing every moment of the devastating floodwaters, communities in outlying areas have faced the same dramas and battled the same difficulties.

Being trapped for weeks, rationing food, losing power for days and watching homes engulfed by water are just some of the experiences rural districts have had to endure.


Rodney Berlin, of Mahes Road, raced to evacuate his family of six last Tuesday night when water began to crawl up his driveway.

“I was awake all night watching the water and it got up to my ankles on the driveway. By the time I got back to the house and grabbed the wife and kids, the water was up past our headlights,” Mr Berlin said.

When the father of four returned to the two-storey house, water had risen to more than a metre in the second storey.

“We've lived there about five years and all under the house is totalled, and upstairs fridges and everything have been knocked over,” Mr Berlin said.

“We won't have any insurance because they don't cover us for floods.”

When Mr Berlin returned to rescue three dogs and three cats from his veranda, the water was so high that he anchored the boat on the second storey of his home.

The dad said the small community of Bungadoo had rallied around the family, offering them accommodation and support.

“They have all been so good,” he said.

“People we barely even knew have been offering us help and a place to stay.”

Neighbours Chris Officer and husband John lost their sheds to the water.

“We had lawnmowers, two cars – everything you would normally have in a farm shed,” Mrs Officer said.

“The water was lapping at the bottom brick of our home before it started going down.

"We were isolated for about four days, then the creek went down suddenly.”

Flooding started in the early hours of Tuesday and Mrs Officer's three young grandchildren, who were holidaying with them at the time, were evacuated by the SES with the Berlin children.

The floodwaters in the Goodnight Scrub area finally receded on Sunday night, allowing residents to leave after being trapped for 14 days.

Resident Leanne Miller said people were using the Perry River Crossing, although there was plenty of damage to the bridge.

“It has a couple of holes in it and the roads are really badly damaged,” Mrs Miller said.

The Goodnight resident of 13 years said the flooding caused serious financial disruption for people who were trapped for two weeks.

“My husband hasn't been able to get to work, which means we don't get paid,” Mrs Miller said.

“We had the power go out for about 25 hours and lost everything in the freezers.”

People at Pine Creek were flooded in for nine days and spent five of those without power.

Kay Amsley lives in the area and said the small community felt they had been forgotten about during the ordeal.

“We had no information about our area,” Ms Amsley said.

“They would say the river heights are a certain level in Bundaberg but that doesn't mean much when they're much, much higher here.”

Ms Amsley said the residents went “days and days” with no contact and no supplies.

“We had no power, no internet and no phones,” she said.

“Lucky the SES eventually came.”

Ms Amsley said when she eventually got a phone connection, her search for information was fruitless.

“I was calling to find out about water heights and kept getting the run-around,” she said.

Ms Amsley said the lack of information added to the residents' concerns.

“A lot of us were quite frightened by the volume of water coming through,” she said

“We are usually a kilometre away from the river and, in the end, it was only a few metres away.”

Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook certainly lived up to its name after floodwaters ripped through the area, dumping huge amounts of sand along the river bank.

In the height of the floods, the ski club could barely be seen, with water only about a foot from covering the entire building.

Club president Colin Patterson estimated the club had lost more than $60,000 of stock in the floods.

“We got a lot out early but there was still quite a lot of damage,” Mr Patterson said.

“We'll rebuild, though, and get back into action.”

Mr Patterson said he expected the building would need all new wiring.

“We even had a cold room float up into the ceiling and come back down, so that's gone,” he said.

The club president said he would take his time with repairs.

“We'll take it slow because we want to get things right – we're not rushing,” he said.

Baffle Bob's Caravan and Camping Park owner Nola Offord said 13 of the park's 23 acres went under water when the water began to rise.

“When the water went down, our jetty was gone,” she said.

“It's disappeared, but others have lost a lot more.”

Ms Offord said about 28 people had been stuck at the park, but only five now remained.

“It's very smelly and boggy here, but things will dry out,” she said.

“Our biggest problem was medication, but they arranged a helicopter to bring some.”

The Baffle Creek Tavern also flooded last week, and owner Peter Grant hopes to reopen for trade in about eight weeks.


Wallaville residents experienced loss of power and phone and internet connections during last week, but all have now been restored.

Bundaberg regional councillor Wayne Honor said the water treatment plant had also failed, but was fixed in a matter of hours.

Gin Gin

Gin Gin's 950 residents played host to about 5000 stranded motorists and Cr Wayne Honor said he had never been prouder of the community.

“From the stories that are coming to me, it's obvious we have a lot of brave, kind and generous people in this area,” Cr Honor said.

“Our SES crossed the Kolan, the second fastest river in Queensland, several times.”

He said the town's one pharmacy ran dangerously low on supplies and, with the help of Gin Gin Police and the Gin Gin Carrying Company, 10 boxes of medical items were delivered.

“We had people camping at the skate bowl, down every side street, under every shop awning, at the showgrounds, the camp grounds and on the streets in their cars,” Cr Honor said.

“Within an hour of putting a call out for help, I had 50 volunteers ready to help.”

Cr Honor said tales of mateship and bravery had washed up with the floodwaters.

“We had one man who took it upon himself to string up a flying fox to get food to some friends that were stranded,” he said.

“The internet and phones went down as well, so people couldn't get any money from the ATMs. So we were feeding people too.”

The highway north and south of Gin Gin are now open, as well as the Bundaberg-Gin Gin Road.

Monduran residents who have been trapped for many days are also beginning to make their way out through the back roads of Rosedale.

North Burnett

Roads are destroyed and homes have been inundated with water, but North Burnett residents are picking up the pieces and starting to rebuild their region.

North Burnett mayor Joy Jensen said the waters had left the area with an enormous damage bill.

“There are quite a number of roads still closed, but they are slowly being opened,” Cr Jensen said.

“We had a community meeting (yesterday) and some people are wondering how we will ever fix all the problems.

"But most are staying quite positive.”

Cr Jensen urged all North Burnett motorists to take it easy.

“Our roads and causeways have been undermined and people need to take it slow and drive with extreme caution,” she said.

“We are doing repairs but we can't be everywhere at once and there is a lot to fix.”

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