It’s called Avondale Heights for a reason – thoughts on the Maribyrnong River Flood

Back in early 1996, I was planning to buy a flat. Maribyrnong was the suburb of choice. I really liked one which I inspected in Newstead or Navigator Street – the floor plan was much better than that of most other flats.

And it was about 3 minutes’ walk from the Anglers Tavern, a riverside pub with one of the best beer gardens in Melbourne.

There was just one thing which held me back from buying it – the flat was on the ground floor in a location not too far from the river, on what could be considered the flood plain.

Being sort of a ‘Local’ (living then on the edge of what is now considered part of Maribyrnong, but back then was alternately Maidstone North or Footscray, depending on whether you spoke to the council or the post office) I knew all about the floods. After all, how could I not forget the flood of 1983 (the night of my cousin Johnny’s wedding) which closed the bridge, or the one of 1987, or the one which filled the Anglers Tavern in 1993.

Hence I decided not to put in an offer, and instead bought a flat on the upper level of a block on higher ground, opposite the Maribyrnong Community Centre (which incidentally is the emergency flood evacuation point for Maribyrnong township).

For the six and a half years that I then lived in the Maribyrnong township (isn’t ‘township’ a much more charming name for a place than ‘suburb’) there were no floods, and nor have then been any major flood incidents there in the 20 years since, when I have lived on much higher ground in Avondale Heights.

But that all changed on Friday morning, when I checked the push notices on my phone on my way out the door and saw the details of the evacuation alerts, followed soon after by a bemused call from a friend who lives in an upper level flat in a street which was in the process of getting flooded.

As it turns out, the flood level on Friday reached 4.22m, breaking the most recent flood record of 4.2m set in 1974, and falling just short of the 4.26m recorded in 1916 (the all time record for the Maribyrnong is 4.5m in 1906 according to the SES website).

I am just surprised that this is the first major flood in so long. How could we go almost 30 years without a huge flood?

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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