Australia – Floods Leave Communities Isolated in Western Australia

Flooding in Western Australia has submerged homes and roads in the Kimberley region, prompting evacuations. Many communities are likely to be cut off for weeks, authorities warn.

Floods in Kimberley Region, Western Australia, January 2023 – Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA


Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie brought heavy rain to parts of northern Australia in late December 2022, resulting in flooding in areas of northern Queensland, Northern Territory and the Kimberley Region in Western Australia.

Around the same time, the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland, warned of the arrival of the monsoon across the Cape York Peninsula with significant rainfall accumulations expected.

Map of rainfall in Australia for a 7-day period to 04 January 2023. Image: BoM

Western Australia

In Western Australia, major flooding is affecting areas of the Kimberley Region where homes have been inundated and the main highway has been cut, leaving towns isolated.

The Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing has reached record levels. Residents in the town have been urged to evacuate, along with other communities in the Fitzroy River catchment including Mount Barnett and Christmas Creek. Military teams from the Australian Defence Force have been called in to assist victims.

The state’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement of 04 January, “Floodwaters have peaked at a record-breaking 15.8 metres in Fitzroy Crossing and are flowing to downstream communities. Our teams on the ground and in the air are working hard to assist people in need. We’re providing evacuation and resupply missions where weather conditions allow, and we will continue to undertake rescues where possible in a very dynamic and changing environment. Massive amounts of water are flowing through the region, impacting multiple communities now and over the coming days.”

The Department said the communities of Noonkanbah, Willare and Looma are likely to see severe flooding over the coming days.

Levels of the Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia, January 2023. Image: BoM
Floods in Kimberley Region, Western Australia, January 2023 – Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA
Floods in Kimberley Region, Western Australia, January 2023 – Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA

Northern Territory and Western Queensland

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie also brought heavy rain to northern parts of the Northern Territory, including Barkly and Victoria Daly Regions. No evacuations were reported and the rain was mostly welcomed by cattle producers in the area.

Heavy rain also caused flooding in western Queensland. Local media reported that police airlifted around 20 residents and visitors to safety after flooding on 30 December 2022 in Urandangi, Piturie, in the Shire of Boulia.

The Georgina River burst its banks in areas near the border between Northern Territory and Queensland. As of 04 January 2023, the Georgina River at Roxborough Downs in western Queensland stood at 8.8 metres, where Major Flood Stage is 8 metres. Flood warnings remain in place for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek.

Levels of the Georgina River at Roxborough Downs, Queensland, January 2023. Image: BoM