BY IVOR JONES
A newspaper article recently listed the top ten Sydney suburbs for storm damage in the past year. Included in those suburbs were Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill and Kellyville. Storms normally consist of strong winds and heavy rain the effects of such can lead to flooding. One may consider that the Hills and Hawkesbury Districts with its sandstone ridges and rolling hills would provide a buffer to floods but we are also littered with streams, creeks and rivers from the Hawkesbury River to Toongabbie and Darling Mills Creeks and the numerous creeks between.
I can well remember the times that Oakes Road at Winston Hills was closed during floods and lives have been lost on the bridge over Toongabbie Creek at that location as cars have been swept away.
And who can forget the number of times that the Hawkesbury has broke its banks at Richmond, Windsor and Wisemans Ferry. with businesses that were flooded, property lost and, again, lives also lost..
The first flood since European settlement in the Hawkesbury region occurred in early March 1799 and reports of the time read “The river rose fifty feet above its common level, the banks were overflown with vast rapidity, and the torrent was so powerful that it carried all before it. The Government Store and all it contained were swept away. Settlers’ houses and furniture, livestock and provisions were, alike, carried off and the whole country looked like an immense ocean. One life only was lost, but the inhabitants had been left in the greatest distress for want of the bare necessities.” It was only a short time later that again the district suffered a similar event. The Governor John Hunter expressed his discomfort once more in a report to the motherland in March 1800 following yet another flood. Flooding of the district continued on numerous occasions since, although it seems to have lessened in more recent times since the 1970s.
The building of the Warragamba dam in the 1950s & 60s would have helped mitigate the problem somewhat. But what of the future? With the onset of a La Nina event forecast by weather experts bringing more rain than usual and also experts forecast the effects of climate change will increase sea levels which will also effect the flow of rivers emptying to the oceans.