By Tracey Patterson
We have had another flood but it was tiny nothing compared to the ones earlier in the year.
This time around we evacuated
on the Friday night and had people camping again the next day!
We have had so much practice this year that we now have it
all down to a fine art. The November flood makes four for the year and currently our annual rainfall is around the 9ft mark.
The Bellinger River Tourist Park is a small, quiet park set on the banks of the Bellinger River in the stunning Bellinger Valley. We have owned the park for just less than two years and were fully aware that it does flood from time to time there is always a price to pay for paradise!
Coming from England I have never dealt with the extremes of weather that this country can throw at you. I have never seen so much rain as I did at the beginning of the year and coming from England that is quite a statement!
In early February the Bellinger River started to rise after about 10 days of solid rain. We are near the mouth of the river so each low tide seemed to be draining the river quite well. However we were coming up to a period when we had big high tides.
The tides together with the incessant rainfall meant that we felt sure we were going to have to deal with our first flood.
One of the local residents described me as a flood virgin but all of that was about to change.
Bellinger River Tourist Park under one of three 1 in 100 year floods
We pulled out our flood evacuation plan and prepared ourselves for the worst. I contacted our local SES Captain, Craig Wykes and made sure he had all of our phone numbers.
We started quietly packing equipment away and preparing our guests for a possible evacuation. They were advised to pack up their annexes, hook up their vehicles and were given detailed instructions on what to do in the event of a flood.
We reassured them that the river was slow rising and slow flowing and that we would have plenty of time to evacuate.
The river at this stage seemed to be holding its own and stopped rising.
My husband has worked on waterways all his life and read the situation well he kept putting out markers and checking the river heights all through the evening.
Around 8pm, Corey said he thought we would go under during the night. I, however, was still being optimistic. I sent Corey off to bed to get some sleep while I monitored the situation. I am glad I did as this was the only sleep he was to get that night.
The SES called in all through the evening to monitor the river their help and support was invaluable.
Eventually at 2am we got the call from the SES to evacuate. Why do these things always happen in the dark!
With the help of the SES, our permanent residents and helpers from the village we successfully evacuated all of the park guests, eight on site caravans and eleven permanent caravans in just under three hours.
We managed to secure all of the park equipment and then sat down on the front veranda with our permanent residents only to work out that the biggest disaster of the evening was that we had no beer in the house!
Floods are fun Traceys daughter Hannah (2) helps with the clean up
Just after that discovery one of our residents saw his fridge float past and on announcing that it held a supply of the amber nectar it was promptly retrieved from the floodwaters and disaster was adverted.
The next morning we had lots of help and encouragement from the local community. The floodwaters here subside with the next outgoing tide and by lunchtime that day we could walk around the park again and begin the clean up process.
The flood was what they call a clean flood and did not deposit too much mud and rubbish on us and we only lost some minor equipment. Four days later the park was open for business, the pool was sparkling again and we were patting ourselves on the back we had done a grand job.
The school bus driver asked me what I thought of my first flood. I clearly remember saying to him if that is the worst you can do bring it on!
How I would kick myself later on!
About six weeks later on 31 March 2009 the Coffs Coast was hit by a 1 in 100 year storm event. On the park our rain gauge could not keep up with the rainfall.
We had 14 inches of rain in an hour let me tell you that is like someone spraying a fire hose at you. Once again Corey predicted it and I have learnt not to question his judgement on these matters so made the call early to evacuate the park.
Thank goodness that he did as within hours all of the major roads in and out of the region were cut off. We got all of our guests safely evacuated with the minimum of fuss it was easier this time as it was daylight.
We secured all of our equipment as we had with the previous flood and stowed it all in the boat shed and our camp kitchen.
All the work done we then settled back on the front veranda and this time around we even had the beer!
This time however the rain did not stop and the waters just kept on rising.
At around midnight the waters started coming in to the house and office.
We carried as much of our furniture as we could upstairs and balanced the rest on numerous milk crates thank you Norco!
BRTP boatshed floats in the flood
The floodwaters still kept rising and peaked at around 3am. At this stage the park was about three metres under water we had a good foot of water through the house and office and the worst thing of all was that the waters had breached the boat shed where we store our equipment and washed a lot of it away.
This flood was devastating and soul destroying. I have seen floods on the TV in the past and always sympathised with the people however never really understood what it meant.
Personally we lost a lot my daughters pram, the childrens bikes, the trampoline, numerous tools and garden equipment, our kitchen floor, a dishwasher and the list goes on. However what shook me the most is what our park residents lost one had his boat which was chained to the trailer and a tree washed away, another had lost the walls of his brand new annexe, his sofa, TV and fridge.
These people had spent so much time helping other people evacuate the park that they left their own places to the very last. It really did not seem fair that they were the ones to loose out.
As for the business the biggest loss was our peak Easter season. Yes we did lose lots of other things picnic tables, fridge freezers, all of the furniture from our cabin, mowers, tools, etc but compared to the loss of income it was inconsequential.
Enough of the losses though with every cloud there is a silver lining we had a free top dressing for the park and our grass has never been so green and lush as it is right now.
Would you believe that we had to then go through the whole thing again in May!
Amenties block shows the level of the March flood
Though all of this we had wonderful support and assistance so I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the following people:
To Marg and Jan who turned up one morning out of the blue with mop buckets and cleaning equipment in hand to help me set my home straight. Ladies I would still have been cleaning now if it had not been for you!
To Jill, who I had not met previously, who came to the park to do my laundry as she heard I had a young child.
To Craig Wykes (SES Captain) thank you for your help and support you are the only man that can get away with calling me in the middle of the night.
To all the guys and girls from the SES without your help and assistance I dont know where we would have been the caravan park would probably be down on North Beach by now!
To Christine and Tony Lamb, regular clients of ours, who hooked up their caravan and drove up from Bathurst to help us clean and set the park straight again.
To Harvey who introduced us to Lanolin spray which save most of our electrical equipment.
To Jed who voluntarily cleared our fence line - twice all 300 metres of it!
To all of our regular guests who called with support and saying that they would come back again.
To all of those brave people who came and camped here two weeks after a major flood
To Michael, Charlie, Ione, Gordon and Cookie the permanent residents on the park there is not room here to list all of the things that you have done for us.
Bellinger River TP pool and cabin normally
It is now four months on and I am considered to be a flood veteran.
Having had 3 1 in 100 year floods we figure the next flood is not due for quite some time. For the last six weeks we have not had a drop of rain and have even taken to putting the sprinklers out to keep the grass green!
Our cabin is still off line as we are battling with our insurers, everything else though is back to normal. The park is beautiful again, the river is clean, the dolphins are back, the fishing is good and the crabs are just starting to come on so what are you waiting for hook up that caravan and come and discover the best kept secret on the NSW mid north coast.
Bellinger River Tourist Park at 96 Mylestom Drive, Repton, New South Wales, is the nearest park to the town of Bellingen. The town is at the epicentre of an extraordinarily creative and active population. For a small town it offers visitors a rare combination of rural charm, rich architectural heritage and a thriving cosmopolitan culture.
The caravan park offers absolute waterfront caravan camping sites for all types of motorhomes to 15 metres, caravans and tents.
New on site caravans are now available at the tourist park. The caravans are modern Jayco Expandas and offer a unique blend of caravanning and camping right on the banks of the beautiful Bellinger River.
Space and comfort Jayco Expanda Bellinger River Tourist Park NSW
The Jayco Expandas sleep up to four people in two double beds. The beds are in drop down weatherproof canvas sections of the caravan maximising the interior space. The caravans are equipped with a gas cook top and grill, microwave, fridge and air-conditioner/heater.
Fully self contained Riverfront Villas and Ensuite Sites are coming soon.
For the boating enthusiast Bellinger River Tourist Park has a private boat ramp on site, guests can throw a line in the river from their campsite to catch a fish, or simply relax and take in the beautiful sunsets on the river. Boat hire is available.
Bellinger River Tourist Park is right on the doorstep of the Bongil Bongil National Park, with unspoilt beaches, sweeping coastal vistas, wetlands, rainforest and pristine estuaries.
Bellinger River Jayco Expanda on-site caravan
Urunga, about five minutes drive from Bellinger River Tourist Park is a friendly seaside town at the junction of the Bellinger and Kalang rivers.
Urunga has a unique seaside village character with plenty to do and numerous eateries. Urunga is the closest shops, and offers a small supermarket, chemist, post office, bakery, newsagents and doctors surgery.
Coffs Harbour is about a 20 minute drive north of Bellinger River Tourist Park and is the areas regional centre. Coffs Harbour offers great shopping, large supermarkets, the new jetty precinct and a wealth of holiday activities, including the award winning Pet Porpoise Pool where visitors can get up close with a dolphin or seal.
National Parks, sporting clubs, restaurants, shops, markets and water sports offer wonderful holiday options for all the family.
Editors Note: Mates Rates offer:
Tracey says Bellinger River Tourist Park has a Mates Rates offer which is valid from now until 24 December 2009.
It is Free Boat Hire -
The fishing from the bank here is excellent but why not try and find our
infamous Repton Hole fishing spot where all the best fish are caught, she says.
Stay two or more nights on the park and get complimentary 2-hour motorboat hire worth $50.
Just mention Go See Australia when you make your booking.
If a motorboat is not your thing we have canoes and kayaks that are perfect for spotting the kingfishers along the riverbank.
Editors Note Also See -