The Tasmanian city of Launceston is facing a 100-year flood

Parts of the Tasmanian city of Launceston are being evacuated tonight as the city faces flood levels not seen since the 1929 deluge which left 22 people dead.

Suburbs in the Tamar River basin surrounds were already underwater yesterday, and residents were moving to higher ground today. Authorities say the floods won’t peak until 10am on Wednesday.

West of the city, residents of the town of Longford have been advised to evacuate as the South Esk river swells from several days of heavy rain over the state’s north-west.

The South Esk feeds the Tamar River through Launceston’s popular swimming hole the Cataract Gorge. Here’s a typical view of “the Gorge” in summer:

Here’s how it looked yesterday:

And flood levels won’t peak until 10am on Wednesday.

Further up the river is a solid reminder of how destructive the 1929 floods were. When it was commissioned in 1895, the Duck Reach Power Station was the first publicly owned power station in the Southern Hemisphere.

It and the suspension bridge spanning the river to the power station were destroyed, plunging Launceston into darkness.

Here’s a photo of the flood threatening the station in 1929:

Picture: LINC Tasmania

And taking out the bridge:

It was rebuilt, decommissioned in 1955 and destroyed again by floods in 1969. In 1995, the bridge was finally rebuilt and the power station restored as a museum.

As at 4pm yesterday, here’s the situation facing Duck Reach Power Station. The suspension bridge is outlined, and waters were touching it at the time of the photo:

Down in the city’s river basin, where the South Esk river joins the Tamar and North Esk river (also in heavy flooding), the levees that took 20 years to build after the 1929 flood are holding out – just.

Here’s the situation in 1929:

Picture: Launceston City Council/YouTube

And here’s a pic of the basin yesterday afternoon:

A photo posted by Nigel Baker (@nigelbaker72) on

One of the first casualties has been one of the state’s finest restaurants, Stillwater, which sits right where the South Esk enters the Tamar basin:

Here’s the moving picture view from near the restaurant’s deck:

A video posted by Andrew Weidmann (@andrweid) on

And here’s something you don’t see every day:


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