The mighty McIntyre River runs through the floodplain town of Goondiwindi, Queensland. Thanks to two local council engineers in 1956 and their surveying techniques and experience they developed a plan to help direct the flow of rising flood waters saving the town from many potential flood disasters.

Recently SMK Land Surveying (Kristine and Dan) headed out to Goondiwindi just after a heavy rain event. The countryside which is normally dry, was surrounded by fields of water. This isn’t uncommon for this area during large rainfalls due to its location on a floodplain.

Goondiwindi, is about a four hour drive south-west of Brisbane, Queensland and is a landscape of rural farming and agriculture.

While the name of Goondiwindi conjures up the mighty grey thoroughbred stallion Gunsynd, it is actually the mighty McIntyre River that is the lifeblood for the locals of Goondiwindi and surrounding areas rather than its famous equine hero. 

The McIntyre River Opens Community Discussions About How to Manage Flood Heights

As well as providing the water needed by the farmers, the McIntyre River holds the memories of growing up Goondiwindi style. It has always been a centralised spot for locals to gather with their family and friends to have a picnic, swim, fish, and enjoy some water sports. Community means everything to small south western towns and in times of extended heavy rains the McIntyre has often reach its peak and above causing great concern for the locals. These rising waters has been a common subject for discussing flood heights and where the water would flow during flood times for many years.  

McIntyre River Border Bridge

Local Engineers Develop a Plan to Build a Levee Bank to Keep Town Safe

It was just this sense of community and protecting it from impending flood damage that prompted two local Council engineers to take on the challenge of the extensive civil engineering needed to keep the town safe.  Vern Redmond and Bill McNulty were visionaries who took note of the 1921 flood information.  After a succession of floods in 1956, the engineers put a plan together to build a levee bank higher than the original markings of previous flood peak levels. At a cost of 57, 000 pounds, the levee reaching 21 kilometres was built running alongside the river. 

When any town is built on a floodplain, there is no crystal ball to predict its future flooding patterns.  However, surveyors and engineers continually assess the levee and conduct flood studies to help evaluate expected water volumes during flood events, and to make sure the integrity of the levee is adequate to withstand the rising water.

2021 Tests the Resistance of the Levee Bank

Recent flood events have continued to test the levee’s resistance. A century on from the big flood of 1921, 2021 saw just a 60 centimetre gap between the water and the top of the levee.  No wonder it is still a popular site to visit and keep that community discussion going.  This close call shows how vital surveying the levee continually is to making sure the height is adequate.

Goondiwindi Tree of Knowledge

Gunsynd put Goondiwindi on the map.
But it is that steadfast levee that has kept it there! And it’s all thanks to the surveying skills and ingenuity of two community-minded local engineers 65 years earlier.

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