When flood debris arrived Bay side and the cleanup of the beaches began


When debris from upstream flowed down the Brisbane River in to Moreton Bay; it was astounding how quickly it all arrived on the beaches around the bay.  Everything from building materials, to trees were washing up with animals still in them, brown snakes, frogs and lizards were just a few that could be seen still alive. Then the dead animals also floated on to the beaches, a pig, and a couple of kangaroos and some cows not to mention other horrible sights.

There was a vast assortment of property which included water tanks, lounge suites, pontoons and boats. The boats were picked up by the Marine Authority, VMR and the Coastguard; other items that could be seen at the entrance to the Port of Brisbane, were an assortment of cars and a portion of the concrete river walk.

One extraordinary sight was a family drifting towards Sandgate beach on a pontoon. The woman was sitting on a chair and appeared to be sunbaking, while her child played by her side and her husband gathered debris, which he dragged on board their make shift raft, as they drifted along. The massive pontoon had come from the direction of the Brisbane River; my first sighting was as it crossed the open water off Cabbage Tree Heads, Shorncliffe.  It eventually came to rest on the sand flats between the swimming pool and the old Baptist church. The volumes of debris that washed in on each high tide, was unbelievable, every household item imaginable came to rest on the beaches at Nudgee, Shorncliffe, Sandgate and Brighton.

It was on Friday 14th January that volunteers started to arrive eager to lend a hand in the clean up. Kitted out with suitable footwear, gloves, hats and sunscreen, the task of gathering up material began.  Caution regarding water quality also had to be considered because Brisbane’s sewerage had overflowed and there was going to be tons of it floating around all across the bay, so buckets of disinfectant were available to wash hands and legs that came in contact with the water. There were other contaminants to think about, everything from oil, petrol, fertilizers and insecticides. This did not make any difference to the many people who worked tirelessly on the foreshore, gathering plastic containers, branches and everything that could be bagged or stacked above the high tide mark. Thanks to all that did so much down on the bay.

Janette Whitehead

Library Technician - John Oxley Library


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