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Queensland rain cuts roads and prompts warnings of flash flooding

By Kelly Butterworth, Krystal Gordon and staff, Monday January 27, 2020 - 18:41 EDT
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Storm clouds form over Cannington Station at McKinlay in central west Queensland where up to 60mm has fallen. - ABC licensed

Days of monsoonal rain have cut off Queensland towns, turned one property into an inland oasis, and brought a welcome boost to rivers and dams in central and western Queensland.

At Oban Station, 85km south-west of Mount Isa on the Urandangi Road in Queensland's north-west, an inland oasis has formed.

Owned by Western Grazing Company and managed by Grant Lowe, the property has seen 135mm of rain fall since Wednesday.

Mr Lowe said the rain soaked in until Friday when the falls got heavier.

"The first few days it sort of soaked up pretty good and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday it got a lot heavier and all day yesterday the water was flowing pretty strong," Mr Lowe said.

"A lot of the roads and fence lines have probably got a bit of wash on them, but as far as we know that's about it [in terms of damage]."

The rain in the area has been patchy, with some neighbours of Oban getting the same amount of falls, but others seeing less in the gauges.

"There were a couple there that only had an inch so hopefully last night something else went their way," Mr Lowe said.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said heavy rain that may lead to flash flooding was expected to develop about the Gulf Country and northern north-west districts on Monday night and continue on Tuesday.

It said six-hourly rainfall totals of 100 to 200mm were likely, and locally heavier falls were possible with thunderstorms.

There have been widespread falls across much of north, central and western Queensland over the weekend with flood warnings in place for a number of rivers including Paroo River, Cloncurry River, and upper Flinders River.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said BOM had advised that the region would see steady rain over the next 24 to 48 hours.

"What we have seen locally is falls of well over 150mm in the Northern Beaches area, particularly around Rollingstone and Saunders Beach in the last 48 hours, and yet no more than 50mm in the dam catchment," she said.

"There's no doubt that last year's event will still have people quite unsettled and there's a lot of people who still haven't moved back into their homes.

"The information we've received from the bureau is that this monsoonal trough is not like the one that we had last year.

"It appears to be more of the typical wet season, where we will see slow and steady rain over the next 24 to 48 hours with those showers possibly extending over the next five to six days."

Town cut off by flooding

The small township of Mckinlay in north-west Queensland has been cut off to the north, with flooding on the Landsborough Highway between the town and Cloncurry.

Senior Constable Anne Collis said the scene was , when many cars and trucks were stranded in the town during flooding.

"There's about four road trains [stranded] and a handful of cars, but not too many," she said.

"A lot of people yesterday went back to Julia Creek via Kynuna to get out."

Senior Constable Collis said last night the town received about 50mm of rain.

"Everyone has been obviously waiting for the rain, it's been much welcomed," she said.

"Everyone is feeling pretty good, although everyone is still a little bit haunted by what happened at the beginning of last year as well with the big floods.

"We'll just wait and see what happens today and go from there."

'It's a good start'

Boulia Mayor and grazier Rick Britton said he received 50 millimetres overnight, but the falls were patchy.

"We're only 5 kilometres as the crow flies from town and they're up to 120," Mr Britton said.

"On the eastern side of us, 10 kilometres down the road where my daughter is, they've only had 12mm, so it's been pretty patchy."

Mr Britton said the rain would make a big difference to graziers in the shire.

"It's a good start like anyone west of the Boulia-Mount Isa road we're doing it pretty tough," he said.

"Anyone to the west would now be starting to feel a bit of relief.

"We're at the start of our wet season. We hope this carries through until the end of March.

"If this sort of weather keeps coming in and we get a proper rain event … people would rather be out of drought than in drought, it'll give everyone a head start.

"The cattle market's going to be pretty good, whether it rains or not because of the demand for livestock."

Cameron Steadman from The Ranch, 100km west of Longreach, said the property had recorded 126mm since Sunday morning.

"From yesterday arvo we had about 30mm and the rest come in last night," he said.

"It's beautiful rain … within the next month we would have had to start off loading something (without rain) but right now we're in the box seat."

Man drowns in fast-flowing current

A 61-year-old man has drowned in Far North Queensland while swimming near Big Millstream Falls.

The area received close to 300mm of rain over the last week.

Police said the man had been swimming with two friends at the Army Swimming Holes, south-west of Ravenshoe on Saturday when he was dragged under the water by a fast-flowing current.

His body was found by police divers yesterday.


© ABC 2020

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