Monday, January 17, 2011

Things that go bump in the night .......

Swollen River at Allansford
"Knock, bang, rap, thump, knock, knock ...."

Sandbagging in Allansford
"What the hell is that, I thought?" A check of the bedside clock shows it's just a little after 5 am. Go to window (in jocks and T-shirt), and there is Teresa, one of the Park Managers. "Well," I thought, "if it's my body she's after for an early morning romp, she's definitely got poor timing - Robbie was snoozing not 10 feet away."

Princes Highway Bridge, Allansford
"Prepare to evacuate," said Teresa, "the river level is of some concern. No need to panic, or anything like that, but just wanted to give you time to get ready."

Now, this is not the best of news for a notoriously bad morning person like myself. So, bleary eyed and bushy-tailed it was a flurry of activity - well as flurry as the Marr's can get. Shower, pack the computer (most important thing to save), a few clothes, all of our combined tablets and that was about it. We walked down to the river and though it was certainly higher than in the deluge of August last year, it was not looking as if it was of any immediate concern.

Overlooking Hopkins Falls
The consensus of the Park workers who had been monitoring it all night, was that the level was going down. We haven't had any significant rain in the area lately, so this was obviously the run-off from the storms in the Grampians about a week earlier. As such, high levels would obviously be around for a while as there was probably still a lot of water to come down the River.
Upstream from Hopkins Falls
With nothing really to do, we decided to do a bit of a tour. We had heard that parts of Allansford were preparing for evacuation so went to have a look around our old stamping ground. The level was certainly up on last August, almost up to the road bridge on the highway. There was some sand bagging in the town, but apart from one house, there didn't seem to be any imminent danger to other houses. From there, we took some back roads to check out the Hopkins Falls. These were certainly running a lot faster than last time, in fact it was more like a series of rapids coming down the river, rather than a waterfall.

View from Western Platform

We returned to Jubilee Park to get a look in the better light and the level did not appear to have risen. The floating jetties were in a bad state and the wooden jetty near the boat ramp was completely under water - not even the tops of the posts were visible.

Not so Floating Jetty, Jubilee Park
Then we did the logical thing - went and had a Macca's breakfast before continuing into town. The area just upstream from the Hopkins River bridge near the mouth was in some danger of inundation - Proudfoot's was definitely in some trouble. However, the rowing Club and others who occupy the Proudfoots area had obviously been very busy overnight and had moved a lot of their stuff to higher ground.

Rowing Club Gear High & Dry
We then checked out the River mouth at the beach, and discovered the probable reason why the levels were not rising significantly upstream. The mouth had been opened up completely, with the river occupying the entire expanse from bank to bank, even to the extent of forcing itself wider by washing out some of the sand dunes on the eastern bank. Have never seen the river mouth as wide.

River Cutting into Sand Dunes at mouth
Back home then, just in time to meet up again with Teresa who was advising people that the danger had passed for the moment. First task, re-install the computer so that I could get the Weather Station back on line and prepare this blog entry.

River Mouth - no longer blocked
Certainly a different start to the day.  We were originally going to go to Colac today - the exciting prospect of photographing more headstones at the Cemetery.  Given the circumstances, this has been put on hold, and anyway, there has been occasional drizzle here, so conditions may not have been ideal there.

Included below are three videos (phone quality only):

Allansford Bridge:

House on River Bank under Pressure:

Hopkins River Falls:

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