NQ floods: Channel country flows a rare silver lining

James Nason, 13/02/2019

An updated satellite image taken yesterday, February 12, by Phil Tickle of Toowoomba and Brisbane based agricultural data analytics company CiboLabs ( showing floodwater in the NQ Gulf and the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers in western Queensland. Scroll to bottom of page for closer image of Gulf flood waters as of last night. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

A RARE silver lining stemming from the destructive flood event that has rocked north western Queensland in recent weeks is the drought-easing flows now expected to rejuventate the floodplains of the Diamantina River and other channels in the State’s west.

Geoff Morton, Roseberth Station, Birdsville.

Not a cloud passed over Diamantina Shire Mayor and fourth generation grazier Geoff Morton’s property Roseberth on the Diamantina River near Birdsville as rain was lashing properties a few hundred kilometres to the north.

However, despite not receiving a drop on Roseberth, the hundreds of millimetres of rain that fell in the Diamantina catchment at Kynuna and Winton means the property is now set for a useful flood after seven years of drought.

“It will make a huge benefit for me personally, because we’re in drought conditions and have been since 2011,” Cr Morton told Beef Central this morning.

Bureau of Meteorology hydrologist Sue Oates said significant flows were coming down the Diamantina and peaking at the Diamantina Lakes east of Boulia and Bedourie now.

BOM also anticipates the Cooper at Windorah experiencing moderate to potentially high flood levels. However only the Thomson River is contributing to that flow, with nothing coming down the Barcoo.

She said good flows were being recorded in the lower part of the Georgina River around Marion Downs which fed in via the Burke and Hamilton Rivers, with water expected to flow through to the lower reaches of that catchment in the next five to seven days.

However the more significant flows were coming down the Diamantina.

Rivers and tributaries feeding into Lake Eyre Basin. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

“The peak in the Diamantina is currently at the Diamantina Lakes area and it is a pretty high peak,” she said. “They are getting minor flooding downstream from the Diamantina Lakes at (NAPCO owned property) Monkira and they will probably get major flooding through there.

She said the flows were expected to be significant enough for water to make it through to Lake Eyre in coming weeks.

Handy flood expected at Roseberth

On Roseberth Station, Geoff Morton said he is expecting a very handy flood.


(What is a ‘handy‘ flood? Floods in the channel country are generally categorised four ways – a ‘channel’ flood occurs when water does not escape from the channels to the surrounding floodplain; a ‘gutter’ flood is when water spills over to the many small waterways or gutters that flow from the main channels; a ‘handy’ (or ‘useful’) flood is when water escapes from the gutters, connecting up to large sheets of water, covering up to 50pc of the flood plain and yielding a large pasture response; and ‘good’ floods are similar to handy floods, but cover a much higher proportion of the floodplain (75pc or more) and grow more feed per area than a handy flood – source: FutureBeef)


“The Diamantina Lakes is up amongst the highest on record but that will flatten out because there has been no local rain down the river,” he said.

“But it is still high enough for me to have a very handy flood at Roseberth and it will turn everything around.

“Usually when I get a good flood, I can get two years benefit out of it, but because I am so dry I am going to have to put virtually all of my herd in on the river which will mean I will probably only get 12 months out of the river.

“But that still pretty good, it might rain again before then.”

Cr Morton said every property where the Diamantina travels through will receive a benefit from the recent northern rain.

“Everybody will get a really good flood out of this, some better than others, Bedourie and Clifton Hills will have magnificent and ones like myself, a handy or a good flood,” he said.

“Everybody south of Winton anyway will have huge benefit right down to Lake Eyre and not only the cattle industry, but the tourist industry will benefit like you wouldn’t believe, tourists love water and birds and that is what this flood will do.”

At least 25,000 square kilometres of country remains inundated in the NQ Gulf, with the flood still 75km across at its widest point. Image: Phil Tickle, CiboLabs ( CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


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  1. brian doherty, 31/03/2019

    Just think how good the country would be for a life time if the government spent the 8bn they intend spending on a buy back scheme of water from irrigators on the Murray on used it on the 9bn Bradfields water scheme from Qld . Is this too sensible for the government to work out no wonder some third world countries are flying past us China springs to mind .

  2. Tony Johnson, 06/03/2019

    I have been hoping the rain around Mt. Isa and Cloncurry and hoped it would get into the Diamantina River. When it gets to Lake Eyre this could change the weather patterns over parts of NSW.
    At least Birdsville s graziers will be OK for at least the next year.
    The whole of Australia needs a huge soaking. Except north Queensland.

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