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The Aussie town that's become an island: 'Don't know how much trouble we're in'

When three rivers around the town rose, Bedourie was cut off from the rest of Queensland and has been isolated for months.

Three rivers have converged, turning an inland Queensland town into a desert island. Situated at the base of an outback sand dune in the state's southwest, Bedourie has been cut off since January 7.

Since the floods inundated the small Queensland community, waters have only receded enough to allow three freight deliveries through, but fortnightly flights from regional aviators Rex have kept grocery shelves stocked. While the majority of the town’s 80 residents work for local government and remain employed, but with tourists no longer able to visit by road, small businesses are suffering.

Local mayor and owner of the Simpson Desert Oasis motel, Robbie Dare, has only rented out three of his 22 rooms since December. “It’s costing us a lot of money — we’ve got eight staff — but we can’t put them off. It’s not their fault,” he told Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday.

A aerial view of Bedourie surrounded in flood waters.
Bedourie has become an island after being surrounded by three rivers. Source: Birdsville Aviation/Supplied

Key facts you need to know about Bedourie

  • Bedourie is the admin centre of the 96,000 square km Diamantina Shire

  • 6000 square kilometres of the shire are under water

  • Other towns in the shire include Betoota and Birdsville

  • Its traditional Indigenous inhabitants are the Wangkangurru.

How surrounding rivers caused Bedourie to flood

Waters surrounding the town reached 5.35 metres and Councillor Dare is hopeful they have peaked and are beginning to fall. Despite being isolated for months, he says spirits remain upbeat. “We’re all one big family, we’re all mates,” he said.

The flood event began after waters from the northwest inundated nearby Georgina River as well as Eyre Creek and King Creek. Photos shared with Yahoo show waterlogged seasonal floodplains, which are estimated to extend a total of 30km in width and stretch in length for 200km.

Right - a scene from inside the chopper showing floodplains. Right - The Birdsville Road at Glengyle with floodwaters running through it.
The Birdsville Road at Glengyle, south of Bedourie is flooded (right). Source: Robbie Dare/Supplied
A sea of water to the southeast of Bedourie. Only sky and tiny glimpses of land can be seen.
A sea of water to the southeast of Bedourie. Source: Robbie Dare

Is it normal for Bedourie to flood?

Because of its proximity to rivers, it's not unusual for the town to flood. In the mid 90s, Councillor Dare recalls the warm flood waters created a fish kill he estimates was 70km long, similar to what’s been seen in Menindee this year.

Luckily for Bedourie the fish appear healthy this year and millions of fish have been seen in the surrounding rivers. Attracted by the floods, birds have also been seen breeding in high numbers around the region.

While the wildlife is likely to attract tourists, roads will need to be repaired before they can return. “We just don’t know how much trouble we’re in yet, because everything is underwater, we can’t see it,” Councillor Dare said.

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