Walcha History: High water hits town

Heavy weather: Trouble with a pushbike in the Fitzroy Street floodwaters of August 1952.
Heavy weather: Trouble with a pushbike in the Fitzroy Street floodwaters of August 1952.

The flood August 11, 1952 was the 13th to visit Walcha since the great flood of 1895, with the flood of 1935 reported to be the most destructive up till that time.

The report in the Walcha News of January 18, 1935, reads in part: “The peace and tranquillity of the town was suddenly disturbed on Monday evening when, a little after 7pm, a hurried phone call from Clifton Eliott of Greenwells gave warning of a rapidly approaching wall of water, the result of a terrific cloudburst above Orandumby at the head of the Apsley River.”

The cloudburst was later estimated to have produced 10 inches of rain in one and a half hours. The river at Walcha rose some 12 to 14 feet between 7.30pm and 9pm and comprised a mass of floating debris that included drowned sheep and several horses.

A new shed at Bowden’s Garage in Derby Street was washed away; the Apsley Street footbridge was carried a considerable distance downstream and several miles of fencing was destroyed. Many buildings were damaged and the old DC power station in Derby Street was put out of action, plunging the town into darkness.

The Apsley River broke its banks again during the afternoon of January 14, 1941. Water rose to a depth of several feet in Derby Street causing business houses a significant loss of stock-in-trade.

Heavy rain commenced falling on Tuesday August 11, 1952 and continued for several days with the resulting flood causing considerable damage and disruption. The Middle Street bridge was closed for a time due to the amount of water rushing across its southern end. Water from Walsh Street entered the rear of business premises on the southern side of Fitzroy Street. Several feet of water also entered the buildings on the eastern side of Derby Street.

Heavy rain commenced falling on Tuesday August 11, 1952 and continued for several days with the resulting flood causing considerable damage and disruption.

Police issued warnings in the early hours of Thursday morning for people to vacate dwellings in low-lying areas. Three people needed to be rescued from their homes while, in one case, rescuers had to wade through 100 yards of swiftly flowing water to remove an Angle Street resident from danger.