Army Truck to the Rescue – 1950

This Wyong news story about two local boys appeared on the front page of The Advertiser, Adelaide, Tuesday 25 July 1950.

Flooded Road Forded with Injured Boy

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SYDNEY, July 24 – An army blitz-waggon tonight forded a flooded road near Wyong, carrying a ten-year-old boy with a gun-shot wound in his right leg. The boy is Lawrence FERNANCE, of Yarramalong. His cousin, Kenneth FERNANCE (18) accidentally shot him in the leg with a pea rifle when the boys were out rabbiting. The Wyong ambulance could not reach the wounded boy through the 3ft. of water covering the road. Local residents lifted him on to a high-clearance blitz-waggon which forded the road with ease. He was then transferred to the ambulance, which rushed him to the Wyong Hospital. He has a compound fracture of the right leg.

ex-army Blitz truck_June 1959 edition of Australian Country magazine

Army blitz-waggon, high enough to clear the flood-waters of 1950.

An interesting article on the sale of army surplus vehicles as 4WD utility vehicles was published in the June 1959 edition of Australian Country magazine, you can read it on-line here.

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Sources: Trove Digital Newspaper ArchiveAustralian Country magazine.

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Floods in the Valley

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

So far this year [2013] the Yarramalong Valley has had two floods, one on 24/25 February and the second a week later. Floods such as these are not infrequent in the Valley. For many residents they are a significant inconvenience, for others these smallish short‐term ones are accepted philosophically as an unavoidable price to pay for the pleasure of living in the Valley. These February/March floods, however, were just babies compared to some of the past. Two earlier ones which made a lasting impression were those on Easter Saturday, 16 April 1927 and 18 June 1949. Other big ones were in 1893 and 1903. Not much is now really known about them.

The 1927 flood is said to have been the greatest ever recorded. The floodwaters covered the railway line north of Tuggerah Station and inundated homes on the west of Tuggerah Straight. In the Valley, the waters were over telephone lines with the Yarramalong Road estimated in parts to be covered by 7.5 metres. Orchards were destroyed and Smith’s Sawmill, then on the flat on the southern side of the Ravensdale and Brush Creek Roads junction, was completely submerged. There must have been extensive damage to other structures, crops, fences and stock.

The 1927 Flood in the Yarramalong and Wyong district [Photo source: Gary Gavenlock]

The 1927 Flood in the Yarramalong and Wyong district [Photo source: Gary Gavenlock]

If the 1927 flood was the biggest ever recorded, the 1949 one was apparently not far behind. It was reported that Yarramalong Road was again covered in places to a depth of about 7.5 metres and telegraph poles beside the road once more completely under water. The Sydney to Brisbane railway line was again closed south of Wyong. At Brush Creek two residents, Jack Hogan and Leonard Ingram, crossed the Creek to repair a motor vehicle. The Creek rose 2.5 meters in 30 minutes and marooned them on an “island” with the water rising rapidly. Hogan swam for help but Ingram could not swim and climbed a wattle tree and stayed until rescued. 

Sometimes more serious incidents occur. In a flood in 1950 a deceased Ravensdale resident reportedly had to be carried down the Valley by a Fernance neighbour in a utility. The Funeral Director’s vehicle could not negotiate the road. In 1963 it is told that another Ravensdale resident disappeared while returning home after dining one evening with a neighbour. His hat and walking stick were found but his body never located. 

There must be many untold flood stories. Some tragic, some serious, some humorous. It would be interesting to learn of more, particularly those which come with some sort of evidence.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Historic Wyong Shire DVD by Gary Gavenlock.