Rockhampton Floods 2011 – A Few Photos & Anecdotes Part One

I procrastinate.

It was late November last year when I had an idea we might get a Big Wet. We’d been getting a few storms over the weeks. Not too much, but intense when they came. There was also those annoying, but welcome scuds; small patches of rain that would soak one part of town, but leave the rest dry. We were getting used to camping with the expectation that we might get a little wet at times.

November 2010 – Hedlow Creek

The second last weekend in November was going to be wet. We headed out to Hedlow Creek on Friday arvo. I wrote the following as events unfolded:

20:20 Sat. 20th Nov, 2010.

We Live In Our Car.

First, this is not a bad thing. Our rent is the cost of a tank of Diesel every couple of weeks, plus maintenance. We don’t have a TV, nor any major mod-cons other than a car stereo and the laptop with obligatory ‘net connection. We have a radio scanner that we listen to to entertain ourselves at times. We have a small inverter to rechgarge the phones and computer etc. We have a 12 volt flouro that lights the car interior. Our battery is a Champion brand 720 Amp marine battery. It has specially designed plates to resist the wave slap in boats. This translates to a better capability to handle regular discharging without collapsing. So far we have had no dramas. But then, it has a 2 year warranty and we’ve only had it a week.

Sleeping is comfortable. We fold down the back seat of the 4WD wagon and stick a double size air-bed in there. Our $8 low pressure/high volume pump inflates the bed in a minute or two.

We have a heavy duty tarp/awning that hangs off the drivers side, giving a 4 by 5 metre covered area to keep our boxes and esky and stuff under. When we’re driving, this stuff is packed in the back. Our home is the car, so we use it to get to work as well. As a result, we can pack the car in about 30 minutes. We have a full toolbox, a half dozen storage crates, plus the soft things (blankets etc). This all fits in the back with the seats up. The dogs sit on a canvas tarp on the back seat and we’re set.

On the weekends, we fit us, the dogs and the two juniors in the car and go camping, usually at our favourite swimming creek.

It Is Raining … A Lot

Now, this could be a bad thing.
We got here Friday night (a little over 24 hours ago). We set up the tarp and the rain started. We’ve had rain most of the week, but it looked like clearing…BBZZZZZZZZTTT!!! Wrong…

I’m guessing we’ve had about 2 inches in the old scale. About 50mm since 8pm last night. It has been continuous, steady drizzle with the odd heavy downpour. The catchment for this creek is moderately large, meaning it is catching a bit of water upstream. Fortunately we have about 3 metres of safe ground before we have to worry about the camp getting inundated.

The other problem we are going to have is when we try to get out of this spot.
We’re camped midway down a gentle slope, on a level spot. The track has recently been graded. It is Black soil. Do you know what Black soil does when it is wet? It sticks to things. Tyres especially.
We spent Thursday night out here and it rained enough to get a little sticky. Our home has a unservicable front differential. This means no Four Wheel Drive. With just a few mm of rain on the track, it was like trying to drive with no steering. Cornering at 3km/h trying to get the front end to drift in the direction you wanted it to go. Fun stuff, but it chews the track up.

Which leads me to answer the question you may be asking. “Why don’t you piss of now, before it gets any wetter”?

Well, it’s already too wet. Driving out will be a case of driving up off the track onto the grass (it’s cattle country). The track was a vague option, up until the four 4wd’s and the two motorbikes repeatedly drove up and down one section of the track, converting it into a slush pit with no chance of getting any traction.

The usual band of destructive 4 wheel driving nutters have decided that the access track is fun to play on. Because of their stupidity, we can’t even attempt the smallish hill in front of the car. We’ll go cross country instead, using the grass to stop the Black soil sticking to the tyres.

Maybe the rain will ease a little tomorrow. Or not. I’ll follow up then…

We Had ‘A Moment

It’s Still Bloody Raining (06:42am Sunday 21/11/2010)

It rained continuously last night. Sometimes it got heavy.
I was woken by my better half at 3am…”You better look at that creek…”
It had risen over a metre between 9:30pm and 3am.
“Wake up daughter, time to pack.”

We got things jammed in the back in about ten minutes or so. The awning and tarps, dog blankets etc were left out. I got ‘Jimmy’ (the 4WD) going and made an attempt to move. As soon as the rear wheels turned it slid sideways. The front left wheel dropped into a small depression next to a very large tree. I tried to back it out. Tried to rock it out. We weren’t going anywhere…

The Unservicable Diff Works – Mmmm, Freaky

(If you read my post from last night, you’ll know about the front diff and how the Crown wheel bearings are supposed to be stuffed. I tested the diff last year and it was making some horrible grinding noises…was to be replaced before January 2011).

…I decided in desperation to engage the front hubs and try 4WD. The worst that could happen is the diff would make nasty grinding noises and do nothing.
It worked. I mean, it worked without all the horrible grinding noises. However, the ground was sodden. It was as slippery as ice. The only way to get traction was to do as we’d thought earlier and try and go cross country. The grass would give us better traction.
I rocked the car back and forth gently, climbed out of the hole, missed the big tree and moved up to high, grassy ground.

We dragged the tarps and other stuff up to the 4WD and left them there, then threw the dogs in the back and headed through the scrub. My Best half walked ahead, checking for low spots, stump holes and logs. Poor baby was soaked. Even the storm jacket copped it.
We got out to the formed track eventually and made our way to the crossing.

Hedlow Creek Crossing In Flood 2010

Hedlow Creek Crossing In Flood Nov. 2010

0700am Still Rising

We got to the crossing about 4am. It wasn’t quite light, but it looked at the marker to be about 20cm under the 2 metre mark. We’re going nowhere. It’s now 7am and the marker has about 5 cm exposed. It has risen roughly 35cm in 3 hours. The rise is a lot slower than it was. I’d say the lake at the end is taking up a lot.

We don’t have any option but to wait this out. We could go back the other way, but it runs over as well, and it is probably under a metre of water by now. Plus, it’s 15km to there across some low country that may be under.

We’re OK though. We’ve got plenty of food and water. Plenty of power, and we’re dry. We can move if we need to find higher ground.

I have a theory about this diff. A while back, when I was servicing the front bearings, I noticed that the splines on the outer end of the axle had been burred. At some point, someone had stuffed up when working on it. I cleaned up the burrs and refitted it. I haven’t tried the diff since then. It’s possible that was the real issue (I hope). I’ll keep you posted on how we fare.

****

Well, we ended up stranded between Lake Mary and Hedlow Creek until Tuesday. It wasn’t all bad though. No-one else was around, or could get to where we were.

Flooded Hedlow Ck With Sightseers

Flooded Hedlow Ck With Sightseers Nov. 2010

Camped On The High Spot

Camped On The High Spot

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