Flooding stops shearing titles and ousts Victorian residents

Terry Sim, October 17, 2022

Flooding on Chris Mackrill’s property at Nanneella. Image – Facebook.

AUSTRALIA’S national shearing and wool handling championships at Bendigo next weekend have been postponed as flooding peaked around several river systems across northern Victoria.

Further flood peaks are expected after rain forecast for later this week as thousands of flooded town residents, farmers and authorities count the cost of damaged houses, infrastructure, fodder reserves and lost livestock.

The flood water has displaced thousands of residents and mobilized a massive volunteer efforts by residents, council and State Government resources, including the Australian Defence Force and the State Emergency Service conducting rescues and constructing sand bag levees.

Over the weekend, the Bendigo Agricultural Show scheduled for next weekend was cancelled after the showgrounds was declared an emergency evacuation and relief centre.

This prompted Sports Shear Australia to postpone the Australian Shearing and Woolhandling Championships planned for 21-22 October to be postponed until 24-26 November this year. The championships have not been held since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic.

SSA chairman Dave Lawrence said in five weeks’ time if the championships’ planned pavilion is not available in five week, then the event will be held in a different building at the showgrounds.

“So either way we can set it up.”

Mr Lawrence said the New Zealand contingent for the championships’ planned trans-Tasman tests was due to fly out here on Wednesday and competitors from Western Australia also needed to finalise travel plans.

“Every state is bringing 20-off people in and getting people here from the northern states was going to be a problem and even getting judges in from all over Victoria was going to be a problem with so many road closures.

“So that’s why we had to call and hopefully in five weeks’ time things will be right.”

An annual shearing competition planned at Euroa next weekend has also been cancelled.

Australian trans-Tasman shearer fighting flood waters

Open shearer Sam Mackrill was due to compete in Australia’s trans-Tasman team national championships, but instead will be fighting flood waters on his properties near Nagambie and Murchison, close to the Goulburn River.

He said the flood waters have wrecked or shut bridges, making it difficult to travel between the properties. He has lost six sheep to the rain and cold temperatures, but nothing to the flood waters.

His father Chris’ property at Nanneella, between Rochester and Echuca, was flooded after an irrigation channel burst its banks as the Campaspe River flooded, losing hay and pasture grass.

“I think it got into his house and it would have got into his sheds, but it didn’t get into my house or shed.”

He is hopeful the forecast rainfall this week will not do as much damage if the current flood waters recede.

Sam said the crop and fodder losses would be “mega.”

“Some people, I would hate to think of the amount of money they had lost; probably in the bigger people (farmers) you would be probably be talking millions and for just the average you would be talking in the hundreds of thousands.”

Sam said he knew of farmers would have lost 50-60 cows or 100-200 sheep.

“Where we are, we don’t have power till Friday at the earlier; so a whole week without power, so I’m actually at my mate’s place now to get a couple of generators.”

Rivers peaking across northern Victoria

Victorian State Emergency Service chief operations officer Tim Wiebusch said the Wimmera River is expected to peak at 3.6 metres tomorrow, not leading to household inundation but impacting grounds and roads around Horsham city.

He said the Avoca River has peaked at Charlton at 7.9 metres, similar to the 2010 flood level.

“At at this stage we are not seeing significant numbers of properties inundated.”

Mr Wiebusch said flooding on the Loddon River is starting to affect communities upstream of Serpentine as the water moves toward the Murray River.

“And in particular we are going to see Kerang coming under pressure Tuesday night into Wednesday when it will start to reach the major flood level, with a peak on Wednesday and Thursday,” he said.

“The challenge for Kerang is that it will be isolated, potentially for up to seven days.”

Mr Wiebusch said Rochester was emerging slowly from its worst flooding on record as the Campaspe River receded to moderate levels. The river exceeded the 2011 flood peak and early indications suggested 85 percent of the town was inundated, he said.

At Echuca, the Campaspe River peaked late yesterday afternoon at 96.25 metres and this was receding but would be around this level for another 24-48 hours, with around 1200 properties either isolated or inundated, he said.

He said a second flood peak is coming from the Murray River, that is expected to peak at 95 metres AHD (Australian Height Datum), “which means we are going to see around 1000-2000 in Echuca come under pressure from Tuesday onwards in that area.”

At Shepparton, Mr Wiebusch said the SES was forecasting a peak of 12.2 metres and potentially 7300 homes being impacted.

“The good news on the Goulburn River at Shepparton is that it peaked this morning at 12.05 metres.

“That 15cm makes a significant difference to the number of properties either isolated or impacted,” he said.

“We believe around 4000 properties there are now either isolated or have some levels of inundation.”

Mr Wiebusch said the Goulburn River will still be at the major 11m flood level for another 4-5 days and water will not drop beneath the causeway between Mooroopna and Shepparton on Thursday or Friday before re-assessment and potential re-opening. The Broken River has also peaked at 8.35m outside Shepparton and is likely to continue to remain at that level for the next two days.

Mr Wiebusch said the Goulburn River is continuing to recede at Seymour despite Lake Eildon releases and is now at the moderate level of 6.5m.

He said the Hopkins River at Allansford is expected to peak in the next 24 hours with only a handful of houses to be impacted, but the Princes Highway is cut between Camperdown and Allansford.

Mr Wiebusch said more than 650 flood rescues had been conducted across the state, including another 100 overnight in the Shepparton-Goulburn Valley region.

Click here to read Grain Central’s story on likely cropping impacts.



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