January 31, 2013

A Mother's Agony

- Heartbreaking aerial view of some of our stranded cattle on the breached storage banks -
Photo taken by Mitch Gates from the helicopter 

Inland communities have been largely overlooked in the media as the focus remains on coastal towns and cities during the latest floods. Scenes with water lapping around the roofs of homes, businesses and services dominate the tele screen. People being plucked in the air by helicopter - incredible.

Personally for me it's all been a fog. My focus has been on our property in Gundy, which is a unique place for capturing water, so in the bad times it's a good thing. But in times of flood, where the three rivers meet, our place is potentially frightening. The river rose by six metres. That hadn't happened in over twenty years. The huge volume of water coming from three directions left us wondering how this would turn out. The river had already risen last week. How much more could it take? 

I don't care. I don't care about the machinery. I don't care about the house. Or when it really boils down to it - even about the cattle. When my son's life is at risk, that is all this mother can think about. 

So when I woke up yesterday morning to Hubby telling me we have an emergency on the place; I entered a foggy zone. I'm here on the coast while my son is OUT THERE and no one can make contact with him. Last communication was with the property manager to say he was walking across to the cultivation to see what he could 'save' and check the cattle. He didn't bank on the water rising so quickly and spreading across the place in that time. He couldn't go back home. Onto the two-way in the tractor to tell the property manager he would sleep in the tractor that night and assess the situation in the morning. 

I'm not going into the events and the poor communication or the lack of total communication that ensued the next day. There was my son in the middle of a flood zone up to three kilometres from the house. And he was stuck in the truck shed with no way of getting back. The SES were called to rescue him. They decided boating up there would be the way to go. It was that or the helicopter.  But was my son at the shed waiting to be rescued.  No. In his mind he was 'fine'. So with the water waist high, he decided to swim and walk through the flood to get home. 

Never has a season been so prolific with snakes in Gundy. The numbers are staggering. They would of been swimming everywhere, spiders bigger than the palm of your hand, fencing wire that easily could of snagged his feet, floating logs and debris, the scenario just too horrendous to think about. 

So when I'm frantically calling the homestead for the latest update, you could of knocked me down with a feather when a voice casually says 'hi ma'. As calm as can be. No alarm in the voice. Same ole same ole. I wish I could of flown through the phone line and hugged him. And then I would of thumped the hell out of him - how could you do that?  There have been cattle found washed up against the fence line and here you are SWIMMING and WALKING for kilometres through this disaster as though it were a puddle. 

Hubby spent the morning stressing of his whereabouts and then when 'supposed' contact was made, organising the rescue. I spent the morning, cleaning the fallen palm fronds around the place crying, angry, ready to leave if anything happened to my son; screaming at my husband, frantically yanking out weeds in the pool area, racing back in the garage balling my eyes out. Where is he, where is he!!! Thoughts of him being washed away; god always takes the good ones young; for sure he'll want Mitch.  I can't describe the agony. It's too painful.

Not sure who the angel was that saw him get home in mostly one piece; but thank you. Please keep watch over him.

PS. And to the bastard who stole our boat from the river, I hope you rot in hell!

The Numinbah Valley property was fairly disasterous too.
That's our gate in the far right hand corner.
The only way in was to walk and the picture in the top left hand corner is the river -
 bridge is totally under and no way to get across.
 The cows on this land have lots of hills so no risk of them getting washed away- the gates to the river are locked - the only way through is if the top fence is destroyed.
With the roaring torrent of water coming downstream from Upper Springbrook,
there will definitely be fences ripped away.
 Upper Springbrook received over 1400mls in less than 48 hours.
 This place capped the highest rainfall in that time anywhere in Queensland over the flood period.
The soils are highly unstable and hazardous in Numinbah.
 We along with many landowners have copped heaps of landslides.
It's going to take ages to settle and stabilize.

Photos taken and compiled by Nicole Gates.


  1. Oh my goodness that would have been so scary. Can totally understand why you would want to thump him!!! Oh my, how stressful. Glad everything is fine with the family. Sad to hear about the cattle and your property.

  2. Hello Kylie. 'Scary' is one way of putting it my dear. I think I went through an entire gamut of emotion in one day. The stress in not knowing what was going on was intolerable. As it turns out, it was probably a good thing I didn't know the full story.

    I'll just say this Kylie; try and imagine yourself in waist high water with three kilometres before you can get to dry land. Then imagine yourself in the water with snakes floating right beside you; logs bobbing along with foxes trying to hang on for dear life close enough for you to reach out and touch them. I listened to his experience as he spoke of the wonderment of the wildlife before him. I think he felt blessed to witness such an event - can you believe it Kylie! I can't recap all he said, but the wildlife he saw in such close proximity was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank goodness he got out to tell the tale; albeit with a wonky knee and blistered feet from the wet socks and rubbing boots.

    I said to Mitch; 'son, you know the difference between David Attenborough, Bear Grylls and you.' 'What?' he says. I reply 'they have a camera crew to get them out if a situation is dangerous. You don't.' He burst out laughing and said 'good one Ma'. Oh my precious boy. But I'm still going to thump the hell out of him!!!

  3. Oh Mariana, I'm just catching up on your blog. ..
    What can I say? I was almost in tears reading this as I know 'stressful' doesn't begin to cover how this must have been.
    Sending you a big hug.

    1. Thanks Brydie. My world stopped for an entire day - and my emotions are still a little raw and all over the place. The story keeps getting bigger with exactly what he went through out there. You wouldn't believe it my dear. Hugs back. Mariana xxx