Queenslanders are a resilient people. As I write, some 2000+ residents of St George a tiny town quite far from the coast have been evacuated, waiting for floodwaters to peak at 15 metres.
This Sunday in early February, the river in Brisbane is placid as a lake. Its green-brown water is salty with the sea tide. Upriver, it grows brackish. Natural growths of mangrove intersperse the ritzy riverside residences. These are now protected to secure the stability of the riverbank. A colony of fruit bats, known as flying foxes, hangs off some of these mangrove trees, looking in the noon light like heavy black fruit - then one drops and flies off mid tumble.
Under this clear blue sky it’s hard to imagine a flood coming a day away. But that’s what the people in St George are waiting for, waters running off higher ground, running together over a large floodplain.
|Cruises on the river|
|Award-winning architecture 1990-something|
|A traditional Queenslander mansion|
To people who live on the river in Brisbane the memory of flooding is as recent as one year ago. Early in January 2011, the rising river dislodged some 500 pontoons (mooring jetties). But riverside homes and gardens have already recovered. In the Botanic Gardens, the high water mark of the 1873 flood landed ocean-going steamers on the flower beds - a few weeks later, a typhoon made it possible to float them back into the river.