News

Pilots praised for heroism

A mob of cattle swim to safety, guided by a helicopter, on Barry and Claire Hoare’s property, Kensleigh, near Duaringa.
A mob of cattle swim to safety, guided by a helicopter, on Barry and Claire Hoare’s property, Kensleigh, near Duaringa. Contributed

THE sound of a helicopter, blades slicing through the air, brought a promise of hope to a Duaringa grazier's wife.

Isolated by hundreds of acres of floodwater and impassable roads, Claire Hoare was alone at home for six days when she first thought of the choppers as "angels in the sky".

To many on the land in Central Queensland, the chopper pilots were just one of the unsung heroes of the floods.

Many pilots across Central Queensland went out of their way to drive cattle to high ground, opening gates to let mobs through and dropping food and fodder to isolated outstations drowning in the current.

To Claire and husband Barry, the choppers were a godsend, delivering essentials and keeping an eye on their properties, Spring Hill and Kensleigh near Duaringa.

Barry said an astounding 92% of Kensleigh, which lies on the banks of the Dawson River, was flooded.

The couple were at home on Spring Hill on December 27, 2010, when a storm front came towards the house, dropping 82mm of rain in little more than 15 minutes.

Claire said: "The wall of water that came down the gully, yes, a gully, not a creek, near the house sounded like a jet engine.

"We had a mare and her five-week-old foal trapped in the corner of a holding paddock and Barry had to cut the fence to save her.

"When he started cutting the fence, the water was around his knee, but by the time he finished, the water was up to his waist - it was awful."

After the first storm, the rain continued and Barry and Claire were due to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary on New Year's Eve when Barry was forced to leave Spring Hill to take care of things at Kensleigh.

It was six days before the two of them would be reunited.

Claire said: "It was very, very lonely for those days - not only was I alone in the middle of the flood, but there were no phones or anything.

"All I had to communicate with the outside world was a two-way radio, through the emergency repeater station on the Blackdowns (Tablelands) and Facebook.

"My nearest neighbour was about 12km away, and I couldn't even get 1km from our house, and we had at least 24 hours on one day without any power at all."

Barry said towards the end of January, they had a chance to get out and about, using the break in the weather to get a full truck of cattle out from their other property to the saleyards.

He said: "All our country on the Dawson River remained wet for much of the year and it wasn't until about three months ago that we finally got out and seeded the place.

"Initially, about 50% of the grass came back slowly and naturally, but it's really smashed our productivity.

"But we're not the only ones in this position.

"Some people have lost everything and aren't likely to get it back," Barry said.

Claire said while there was such a huge loss of homes, infrastructure and machinery across Central Queensland, without the help of so many it could have been much worse.

Barry said that one of the things he had the most thanks for was a government grant of about $25,000 that made it possible for them to re-build fences and kick-start the recovery process.

Claire said her most vivid memory of the floods was the selfless acts of the helicopter pilots, keeping livestock alive and making sure farmers and graziers could feed themselves and their pets.

She said: "I think there were just too many people to list for their help during and after the floods."

Barry said: "I just remember once during the floods getting up in one of the helicopters and seeing the water.

"It was just awesome, looking out of the window, and for 60km, all the way to the horizon, all you could see was the water.

"You know, it was pretty tough for a while, but after it, we're starting to see the benefits of all that water - it's definitely a long way better than a drought."

Topics:  floods, pilots, rescue



It's a crime to expect us not to name you

court generic

We report on court proceedings relating to crime every day

Bush fire breaks out at First Turkey

QFES, Rural Fire Brigade, Fire Brigade, Emergency Services
Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

Bush fire in north Rockhampton

Knowing the time value of money

Tweed is facing a rental crisis.

David French offers up finance advice

Local Partners

Britney Spears smoked cannabis as a teenager

Britney Spears

Britney Spears experimented with cannabis when she was 17.

Lady Gaga confirms Super Bowl show

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga to perform in coveted spot

Girls actors give emotional tributes to hit show

Actor Allison Williams

Actors farewell smash hit HBO show Girls after six seasons

Janet Jackson's pregnancy is 'best thing'

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson can't wait to become a mum

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Rail station upgrade a 'game changer'

HISTORIC SITE: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga and Livingstone mayor Bill Ludwig outside the old railway station in Yeppoon which will be the focus of a redfevelopment in the CBD.

IT'S BEEN part of Yeppoon's history since the 1900's.

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Projects hoped to revive Rockhampton real estate

There have been just over 800 house sales in Rockhampton this year

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'