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In January, it got wetter ...

By Andrew Gunn - posted Friday, 21 January 2011

It rained for weeks and then, in January, it got wetter. Climate change, anyone?

I was in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Rain was torrential but minor house repairs were needed to keep the water and snakes out.

A teenage son and I left for a hardware store, a one-hour round trip. Creeks were swollen but we got there.


When returning, cars slowed ahead of us. A sign said, “Saltwater over road”. The water looked shallow and I figured driving slowly meant salt would barely touch the car. A speeding bus in the opposite lane disproved that theory.

Rain kept bucketing down. Out of town, I pulled over so a large van would pass. It could be my flood marker. Cars are occasionally lost crossing the local creeks.

The van was moving quickly but I kept up. Its tail lights were more visible than the road.

The van braked at a long section of flooded road. It crept forward into the water but then stopped. I realised that instead of fondling a length of rope in the hardware store, I should have bought it.

The van then accelerated and was soon on its way. I decided to take the plunge. Momentum would be my friend.

Apparently you need to go above 60km/hr to hydroplane. I was not going that fast but in the most treacherous and rapid-flowing section my tyres created the second-biggest plume of water I’ve ever seen. Man, I scared the bejesus out of that creek.


The next day, I got smarter and checked the tide times before leaving for Brisbane. We were safely home before the highway closed.

A day later, I drove to work in outer suburbia. My usual route was impassable but a short detour did the trick.

Half a dozen patients into the day, I was told the clinic would close. Nearby creeks were rising and staff could be trapped for days. Toowoomba’s unbelievable flash flood a day earlier didn’t help anxiety levels.

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First published in Australian Doctor as "A view from the waters" on January 18, 2011.

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About the Author

Dr Andrew Gunn is a Brisbane GP, editor of New Doctor, National Treasurer of the Doctors Reform Society and Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Queensland.

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