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Byron Shire
March 3, 2024

Flash flood washes partygoers’ cars away near Mullumbimby

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Partygoers from Kohinur Hall at Upper Main Arm near Mullumbimby check out one of the 10 cars swept away by flash flooding on New Year's Eve. The cars had been parked near causeways when the storm hit. Photo Tamsyn Rose
Partygoers from Kohinur Hall at Upper Main Arm near Mullumbimby check out one of the 10 cars swept away by flash flooding on New Year’s Eve. The cars had been parked near causeways when the storm hit. Photo Tamsyn Rose

Hundreds of partygoers celebrating New Year’s Eve at Upper Main Arm near Mullumbimby were stranded for the night and a reported 10 cars swept away in flash flooding caused by a severe thunderstorm.

The storm dumped up to 200mm of rain in just a few hours in the hills behind Mullumbimby.

Panic gripped some in the dance party who saw cars float by in the creek around Kohinur Hall as the storm lashed the area, also bringing down trees across roads.

Fears people may have been sleeping in cars parked near several causeways near the hall and swept away were allayed when dance-party organisers interrupted the event to account for owners and passengers of the cars.

Organisers told prevellers, many from other regions, were told to stay put and not to try and cross causeways.

‘There are also kids at this party and it was feared some of the littlies may have been sleeping in the cars,’ one partygoer told Echonetdaily.

‘There was not much many owners of the cars swept away could do as the creeks rose so quickly when it started raining, it was was just like a water bomb had hit the place.’

Some people who tried to drive through a nearby causeway were stranded when the floodwaters pushed it off the road. They were forced to wait for the water to recede before getting out of their car.

The storm also caused a major landslip which blocked the road at Upper Wilsons Creek.

Part of the road at Upper Coopers Creek was washed away by the heavy rain.

Byron Shire Council work crews are out and about today clearing debris off those roads.

A stranded partygoer carries on dancing by the flooded causeway at Kohinur Hall yesterday morning. Photo Tara and Peter Leishman.
A stranded partygoer carries on dancing by the flooded causeway at Kohinur Hall yesterday morning. Photo Tara and Peter Leishman.

Partygoers from Kohinur Hall at a nearby flooded causeway yesterday morning. Photo Tara and Peter Leishman

Partygoers from Kohinur Hall at a nearby flooded causeway yesterday morning. Photo Tara and Peter Leishman

Upper Wilsons Creek Road was closed by a landslip caused by the the New Year's Eve storm. Photo Michael Balson
Upper Wilsons Creek Road was closed by a landslip caused by the the New Year’s Eve storm. Photo Michael Balson

Mullumbimby Golf Course was marooned in a sea of floodwater early yesterday morning. Photo Marcus Mohler.
Mullumbimby Golf Club was marooned in a sea of floodwater early yesterday morning. Photo Marcus Mohler.

Mullumbimby golf course under water at dawn yesterday. Photo Marcus Mohler
Mullumbimby golf course under water at dawn yesterday. Photo Marcus Mohler

An organiser of the Kohinur Hall event told Echonetdaily that media reports of the number of cars swept away varied, with the ABC reporting that 10 had gone missing in the flood waters.

‘I personally saw four in the creek, but who knows how far any others ended up? But the attitude of those people who lost their cars was fantastic, they just went straight back to the dance floor,’ Min said.

‘That summed up how the 300-400 people in the hall and surrounds coped, there was a real community spirit, everyone looked out for each other, locals in our crew also volunteer for the bush firies or other emergency services, so we were well prepared,’ she said.

An ambulance crew which responded to a call for assistance for a person suffering a minor ailment earlier in the night was stranded by the flood, then was on hand to deal with other minor injuries from the crowd.

‘In a sense, that was reassuring to have them there as well as our trained volunteers,’ Min said.

‘What could have been a tragedy, say a downing or electrocution  was avoided, our priority was safety first, we pleaded with them to stay and party on and not try to get back home.

‘Many young people, some from Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads, had never been here before nor experienced a flash flood, and many were very excited about being flooded in.

‘In the end the Kohinur Forest Stomp 2014 was a huge success and a Facebook site has been set up to share photos of the night (under Kohinur Forest Stomp).’

Meanwhile, the heavy downpour kept Byron Shire Council staff busy, with trees down in Wilsons Creek Road and Coolamon Scenic Drive.

Wilsons Creek Road was closed until about 4pm yesterday afternoon so crews could remove the trees at both sites.

Geotechnical engineers had also inspected the landslip at Wilsons Creek Road (about a kilometre  further inland from where the road was recently repaired).

Traffic controls are in place and the road is currently single lane access.

Prior to the recent storm, Byron shire had repaired, or in the process of repairing, 10 landslips sites as a result of storms in early 2013.

Geotechnical engineers will also inspect these sites over coming days.

This morning, geotechnical engineers  inspected the Wanganui Road and Hounbrook Road slips and reported no further movement at these sites.

Other areas affected included washed out causeways, some scouring of road edges and reports of trees across roads at hinterland areas of Upper Coopers Creek, Springvale Road, Settlement Road, Bencluna Road, Gittoes Lane, Tickles Road and Left Bank Road.

Council crews are currently working throughout the Shire with the excavator at Goremans Road and Springvale Road.

Any road concerns can be reported to the afterhours emergency contact phone number 02 6622 7022.

The boys in blue keep an eye on the dance floor at the Kiss NYE Tropical Fruits party in Lismore. Perhaps they were searching for an Indian, construction worker, a leatherman, a sailor and a cowboy?
The boys in blue keep an eye on the dance floor at the Kiss NYE Tropical Fruits party in Lismore.

 

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. I just want to point out that when you try to drive through water…..dead slow is the go.The same up a steep hill …..dead slow. Once your wheels spin in either circumstance you have lost traction ….and control. If on a steep road you will wreck the gravel surface of the road and slew off to the side.If in the water most likely you wont manage to steer straight.How do I know…..I used to make those same mistakes before someone told me how to do it properly to have the optimum chance of not getting bogged.Another thing ….if you are on a gravel road on a private property ….the most polite thing to do is slow….because otherwise you ARE damaging the road…..which is expensive in energy and coin to keep together.

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