|Source: Personal Collection.|
This is a photo taken during the 1958 flood at my uncle's property, Cranbourne Station. The waters got to the front stairs.
About two weeks before I was due to be born, it was decided that Mum would leave Lornesleigh and travel five hours to Townsville on Queensland’s northern coastline. A caretaker named Sparrow Lavery (I have no idea what his real name was) was left to look after the place, since Dad had driven Mum there, to wait out the final stages of the pregnancy.
Mum was brought up on a sheep station near Julia Creek, so she knew better than to wait around for labour to begin, before making her move.
And just as well. I was in a hospital getting born when my parent’s station went underwater after a massive downpour of rain.
Not just once, but twice within a week.
Homesteads were always located near rivers for ease of getting water, so flooding of a homestead was going to be inevitable. Our homestead was situated near the junction of the Suttor and Cape River. They were two major rivers that fed into the larger Burdekin River. After weeks of rain, it was the Suttor that flooded first.
Old Sparrow had been watching the levels of the rivers rising but would not go on the transmitter radio to get any further information. He was scared of the thing, and no matter how hard Dad tried to teach him how to use it, he refused to learn. That turned out to be a big mistake.
Sparrow was in the homestead kitchen one morning having breakfast, when he heard an ear-splitting rumble that sounded like thunder breaking overhead, coming towards the homestead. He knew what it was.
It wasn’t thunder but a massive wall of water breaking the banks of the Suttor and crashing towards the homestead. All Sparrow had time to do was grab one of Dad’s rifles and rush to saddle up Dad’s precious horse, Simba, before the homestead went underwater.
Exactly what happened next remains a mystery to this day. Sparrow went missing for a week before turning up at Harvest Home station (the property adjacent to ours) and Simba went missing. Sparrow never was the same again and he never ever said precisely what happened that day to anyone, not even Dad