MoB Sunday Stories: The Great Flood of 1893
From a place of beauty and peace to a central artery of settlement, trade and defence, Maiwar (the Brisbane River) has had many roles and flooding has always been a part of its lifecycle.
When European colonials arrived and began building the city of Brisbane on the banks of the River, they were unaware of how much loss and destruction lay in the future, so build they did. It has been over ten years now since Brisbane saw its last major flood and though undoubtedly catastrophic, marks on the gauge in 2011 were far from the peaks of the 1841, 1893 and 1974 floods.
The flood of 1893 was later referred to as the Great Flood. That year, the Brisbane River burst its banks on three occasions throughout the month of February. The Victoria Bridge and the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge were swept away and low-lying areas of South Brisbane and West End on the banks of the River were especially vulnerable to the raging torrent. The force of the water shifted houses from their stumps in West End and sent them down River to be smashed against the remaining pylons of the Victoria Bridge.
“Sunday morning in Brisbane had never dawned on so much desolation. It was only then that the full extent of the cruel water’s work could be gauged. Houses which, when forsaken, were but covered to the roof, has been lifted out of position, in many cases being deposited down the street.”
Queensland Times, 11 February 1893.