Remembering the Night of Noah: Flood Memory and Townsville's Floods of 1998 and 2019



In January 1998, Townsville experienced a flood event that came to be known as the Night of Noah. Local media coverage painted the event as exceptional, despite the city’s reliance on monsoons and cyclones for its water supply. When a subsequent extreme wet-weather event and flooding occurred in January 2019, the Night of Noah was quickly recalled, but media coverage also depicted the more recent event as exceptional. Experiences of the 2019 flood suggest that, following Noah, a sustainable flood memory was not developed, but the development and promotion of a local flood memory will be necessary to guide Townsville’s future planning and development.

Author Biography

Rohan Lloyd, James Cook University

Rohan is a historian from Townsville, Australia. His research has primarily focused on the history of the Great Barrier Reef and his interests extend to Australian environmental history and histories of environmentalism. Rohan is currently an adjunct lecturer at James Cook University and is a teacher at local high school.

Photograph of damage to Townsville’s Strand from heavy rain, January 1998. Used by permission of CityLibraries Townsville, Local History Collection.