The Australia Day Floods, January 1974



In January 1974, Brisbane experienced its fourth-highest recorded flood when a large monsoonal trough and associated cyclone dumped huge rainfall into the Brisbane River catchment. In the years between large floods, significant development of the floodplain had occurred, encouraged by the locals’ faith in Somerset Dam to alleviate flooding. Lives, houses, and industrial facilities were lost, swept away in raging floodwaters. Rather than regulate the floodplain, the Government pursued its plan to build a second flood-mitigation and water-storage dam, Wivenhoe. The reliance on structural engineering to mitigate floods continued.

Author Biography

Margaret Cook, University of Queensland & La Trobe University, Australia

Dr Margaret Cook is an environmental historian, cultural heritage consultant, a Post-Thesis Fellow at the University of Queensland, and an Honorary Research Fellow at La Trobe University. Her PhD, completed in 2018, explored the history of floods in the Brisbane River and her findings have been published in national and international journals and in a forthcoming book, A River with a City Problem, with University of Queensland Press. Her current research deals with the colonial settlement of central Queensland for the production of cotton in the 1920s, particularly gender, climate and water.