Old news from Armidale and New England

Local news from newspaper archives

Floods On North Coast Threaten To Isolate Several Towns

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Saturday 27 August 1949, The Sydney Morning Herald

Several towns on the lower North Coast and northern tablelands are in danger of being cut off by floods following torrential rain.

Local floodings have occurred in the Coffs Harbour, Armidale, and Port Macquarie areas, where heavy falls of snow are also reported.

Low-lying areas of Kempsey are a sea of water, and before morning it is expected that most of the town, including the main streets, will be under water.

All residents in low-lying areas of the town are leaving their homes and thousands of head of cattle are being moved to higher ground.

There were distressing scenes last night as these residents began to move their furniture and belongings in blinding rain and intense cold.

Part of the railway line between Uralla and Kelly Plains is under water and railway officials say that if the rain continues to-day all railway traffic on the line will stop.

Trains affected are those to Moree, Tamworth, Brisbane via Wallangarra, and Glen Innes.

A “Herald” pilot who flew over the northern tablelands yesterday said the country between Uralla and Armidale was badly flooded.

The country north of Armidale was thickly covered in snow up as far as Ben Lomond.

“Ben Lomond must have had a two-foot layer of snow,” he said.

“Yesterday’s fall of snow in this area was the heaviest I have seen on the northern tablelands.

“Because of bad visibility I did not see Armidale at all when I flew over it.

“All the creeks south of Armidale are running bankers and have spread out across the fields forming giant lakes.”


Last night the Weather Bureau issued a flood warning for the North Coast, and a storm warning to shipping off the N.S.W. coast.

Further heavy rain during the night and early to-day (Saturday) was expected to cause flooding in some areas between the Bellinger and Manning Rivers.

Rough to very rough seas were expected east and north of Sydney.

The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. S. F. Kellock, said last night that snowstorms and heavy rain had wrecked the main northern tablelands trunk line on both sides of Guyra.

Only four trunk lines of the normal 27 to Brisbane were working. Armidale last night reported the heaviest floods.

The local gas works are flooded and all gas supplies have stopped.

All roads leading into Armidale are blocked by heavy snow and floodwaters.

Police evacuated six families from low-lying parts of the town yesterday.

They rescued one woman who was stranded with her three-months-old baby in water knee-deep.

Police said last night that if rain continued to-day more than 50 families would have to leave their homes.

Dumaresq Creek broke its banks yesterday morning and late last night an area of half-mile radius was under water.


Up till 10.30 last night 12 inches of rain had fallen in Kempsey.

All creeks below Bellbrook are running bankers, and bridges are covered. The road north and south of Kempsey is cut.

High winds and rain are reported from all parts of the Macleay to-night, and rain is still falling.

Buses and ambulances have been stationed between West and Central Kempsey.

It is expected that the river will break near the railway bridge in the early hours of the morning, thus cutting all communications between Central Kempsey and West Kempsey.

Beisldown River, which flows through Dorrigo, is 5ft 3in over its banks. Police say this is the highest level for 23 years.

Thousands of pounds’ worth of crops have been destroyed in the Dorrigo district.

The Bellinger River has broken its banks in many parts and has risen from its normal depth of four feet to twenty feet. About 6 inches of rain fell yesterday.

Police have evacuated 12 families from low-lying areas.

They said the town itself was not threatened, but if the river rose any further about 200 people would have to leave their homes along the river’s banks.

Following are reports from the affected areas:


NAMBUCCA, Friday. – Record floods arc expected on parts of the Nambucca River following average falls of about 10 inches of rain during the last 24 hours.

This evening the upriver towns of Bowraville and Taylor’s Arm were isolated by road.

Taylor’s Arm, at the town of Taylor’s Arm, was 40 feet above normal at 5.30 p.m. and still rising fast.

The Bowra River at Bowraville at 8 p.m. was up 27 feet and rising at the rate of one foot an hour.


COFF’S HARBOUR, Friday. -Struck by a cyclonic disturbance which hit the harbour early this morning, nine fishing launches and two valuable yachts were washed ashore, at Coffs Harbour.

One launch was smashed to pieces on the jetty and is a complete loss.

The launches are part of the Coff’s Harbour deep-sea fishing fleet and are valued at approximately £25,000. The yachts are privately owned and are believed to be valued at £30,000.

Fishing gear and launch fittings valued at thousands of pounds have been lost.


KEMPSEY, Friday.-The Macleay River at Bellbrook is within two feet of the record 1946 flood mark.

In that year the river broke its banks and caused damage estimated at £100,000. In some quarters it is feared that losses in the present flood will be even greater.

The 45ft Seventh Day Adventist launch Leleo was swept ashore early this morning, about a mile from Crescent Head on the north side.

The crew of three white men and five natives is safe. The boat is being buffeted by heavy seas.

BELLINGEN, Friday. – Following torrential rain, the river is rising at Bellingen, and there is now over 20ft of flood water.

Homes are menaced at East Bellingen, and some people have been evacuated.

Bellingen is cut off from Dorrigo, the river being 5ft above the Thora Bridge.

The only traffic to north of Bellingen is by rowing-boat. The only bridge is 15ft under water.

ARMIDALE, Friday. – Armidale is suffering its worst flood for half a century.

Since rain began to fall about 11 o’clock on Wednesday night, nearly seven inches have been registered.

At midday big flakes of snow fell.

Written by macalba

September 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Very interesting. I wonder if it was these floods that left ‘cows in the tree tops’ (a story my uncle tells) along the Orara River, too.


    September 28, 2010 at 3:17 am

    • I wouldn’t have believed any story about cows up trees until I once saw how the Macleay looked in flood. Now I’d believe you could find anything up a tree after a flood!


      September 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

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