The devastating nature of floods in parts of the country makes it hard to believe that Australia is still described as the driest inhabited continent on Earth.
In rural and regional communities, the impacts of ongoing weather extremes are often hardest felt, and farmers can be left with significant damage, resulting in costly repair work in the flood’s wake.
A handful of land owners in the New South Wales Hunter Valley looked to a new approach to minimise potential flood damage to key infrastructure on their properties.
Farm Manager Rick Wiegold looks after 10 properties with 300 head of cattle around Milbrodale. Seven of his creek crossings have the Waratah flood posts installed.
“As we have two National Parks up stream, we have considerable debris that flows down the streams. We were very pleased with the results, as normally in this type of event, our traditional fences would have all washed away,” Mr Wiegold said.
The Waratah flood post can be incorporated into fences which run through water courses, creeks and channels which are dry, shallow or slow moving at other times.
Each post is designed to float up with the rising water suspending the wires above the water line. This limits the buildup of debris which would otherwise increase the water pressure that breaks and washes away traditional fencing.
“We used the Waratah flood posts in wide flat crossings, deep narrow rivers, under bridges and across causeways and each one held strong,” Mr Wiegold said.
“The traditional fencing around the paddocks where the cattle are held usually break and we then spend considerable time rounding the cattle up and re-fencing. This time when the water level receded so did the posts, on a lean high enough to keep the cattle in.
“When I got around to checking each fence it was simply a matter of standing the post upright again and pushing in the spigot. The ballast in each post holds it firmly in the ground – until next time.”
Local Hunter Valley horse owners, like Bridget Wooding, are also happy with the new innovation.
“We are happy that until we can get back to the creek crossings after a flood event, the posts are still intact, keeping our valuable horses contained and limiting the risk of our horses being entangled in a broken fence,” Ms Wooding said.