Archive for the ‘Qld Floods’ Category

Coolana Olives – The Road To Recovery

Posted on: January 31st, 2011 by Julie Lewin No Comments

My last blog post was about Ian and Dot Roy, members of our community.  They own an olive farm in the Lockyer Valley that was devastated by the recent floods.

In that blog post, I asked people if they wanted to know who they were supporting by donating to the flood appeal, they could buy some olives from Coolana Olives.

I’ve done just that … and I’ve got two packets of olives.  The award winning Home Style Baked Garlic Lime Chilli Olives and the Home Style Baked Sweet Thai Lime Olives.

They are the most delicious olives that I have ever tasted and I have to say the sweet Thai lime olives are my favourite.  I don’t quite know exactly what they’ve done with them, but they are delicious.

They’re Kalamata olives … and it’s the most amazing olive sensation I’ve ever had.

I just wanted to share with you how fabulous these olives are … and they arrive in the mail.

So you can go online at and order them … and they’ll pack them off to you.

Well … that’s my update for and if you haven’t donated to the appeal yet, you can donate at the main page or you can go to and order yourself some delicious olives.  I promise, you won’t regret it.

I love them!  Yuuummmmm!!!



Humbling moments and a feeling of gratitude…

Posted on: January 28th, 2011 by Matt Clarkson No Comments

Hi All

My name’s Matt Clarkson and recently I helped a friend who had been severely affected by the floods north of Ipswich as his two month old house was inundated by the floods. Totally devastated!

Along the way we had to go over the main Wyvenhoe dam which was still massively overflowing.

In my old life I was a carpenter so am pretty handy when I clip on the old nail bag. We went to Wayne’s house to remove the bottom 900 mm of plasterboard from every wall over a 700 square meter house as it was all ruined. Let me tell you it was a massive job, I had help from Amanda’s 74 year old dad (he’s an old trady too) and we just went for it.

We worked our tails off and in fact everybody out there did too and I have to say it was a pretty special feeling I had to be able to contribute in my own small way. It’s been amazing to see so many people chip in any way they could to help those in need. I also had the pleasure of being able to lend Wayne and his family our caravan for as long as he needs it to give him a comfortable place to stay in the meantime.

What I didn’t know at that stage is that we had also lost a fair amount of our stock for our business as it was warehoused at a fullfillment comapany in Brisbane. I got back to work the day after helping my friend Wayne to discover we had lost around $40,000 worth of stock ourselves.

And yet all I can really think about is the people who truly lost everything, including loved ones and think just how grateful I am to have missed the worst of it.

To everybody who contributed either financially or with time and effort a big well done. It really means a great deal to the people involved who have to somehow pick up the pieces…especially the ones who don’t have the capacity to finance the cost of the major repairs.

Matt Clarkson

Olive Farmers, Ian and Dot Roy of Coolana Olives, Hit Hard

Posted on: January 24th, 2011 by Julie Lewin No Comments
Coolana Grove

Coolana Grove

I don’t know about you … but Frank and I “LOVE” Australian Olive Oil! We won’t use anything else.

When I heard that one of Our Internet Secrets community members, Ian and Dot Roy’s Olive Farm – Coolana Olives – was hit hard in January 2011, I asked them how we could help … and discovered much more than I expected.

In 2008, a 1 in a 100 year flash flood hit them (170mls in two hours).  Their olive press was written off and they had to start again.

In January 2011, that’s right less than 3 years later – they were flooded again … this time 380 mls of rain in 24 hours.

I had to share their story with you …

Over a metre of muddy water came through their shop and factory when south east Queensland was turned into a big lake overnight in the second week of January 2011.  It took 5 long days to clean up the mess.

They had only just finished cleaning … when the nightmare continued … another 65 mls fell overnight. You guessed it … this sent another layer of muddy water back through the shop/ factory. That would be enough to make any spirit crack.

But … they’re not broken … they rested up … and got back in and cleaned up again.

Yes … they’ve lost a lot of olives, but they weren’t totally destroyed.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Coolana Olives - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Coolana Sevilanno Olives

Coolana Sevilanno Olives

Here’s what Ian said, “We still have unaffected stock and if people can support by buying our product it would be great.”

If you want to put a face and name to someone you have supported … help this Australian farm get back on its feet … you can buy online

Have a read of their about us page … its inspirational.

They have developed lots of products that look and sound delicious … you can see that they’ve used their imagination to tempt your taste buds.

Check out their product catalogue where you can buy online and have it delivered to your door.

Visits to the olive grove are also very welcome … just give them a month to get back on track before you go and visit them at:

Lowood Minden Road, Lowood Qld 4311 (There’s a map on their about us page.)

Phone: 07) 5426 8393


I hope you love olives and olive oil as much as we do … and decide to see what Ian and Dot have to offer.

Until next time … Cheers … Julie

The Stories That Make This Tragedy More Real

Posted on: January 22nd, 2011 by Julie Lewin No Comments

Its the stories that move us beyond ourselves.

Will Take 12-24 Months To Get Back Into Their Homes

I spoke to a member of Our Internet Secrets community a couple of days ago and she told me that the water reached the ceiling in her home and over the roof of her brother’s home. She said, “I’ll be alright … but I’m sad for my brother. He has lost everything … he has a wife, baby and a toddler.” From memory she said there was no insurance.

They will be out of their properties for 12-24 months!!! When I heard that … the reality of Anna Bligh’s comments about the recovery journey hit me … this is going to take a long time to bounce back.

They have a close loving family and friends and they will recover in true Aussie spirit.

Planned A Clean Out In 2011 – But Not As Dramatic As This

Yesterday … I spoke with another member of our community … Vivienne Hallman.

It is an inspirational story in the face of adversity.

Vivienne has a two story home in Fig Tree Pocket in Brisbane … and it was hard hit by the floods from the Brisbane River. The ground floor was totally submerged and about 40cm ran through the top floor.

When I rang Vivienne she was cleaning her Old English china collection … she had 1500 in her collection, they were all on the bottom floor. She was counting her blessings that only 50-100 pieces were broken or damaged.

What happened on Saturday and Sunday after the floods was truly amazing … Vivienne said, “30 people arrived at my door on Saturday and Sunday morning and they worked in total harmony all day. There was not a single cross word … it was complete harmony. When you think of that many people in a grotty house under those conditions working very happily … it just shows what people can do when the occasion rises … if the importance is there – there are no egos.”

She didn’t know more than a couple of these people. They just came and offered to help and got along with each other. One lady was there on both Saturday and Sunday. She took the leadership role and in her pleasant way organised people in their tasks. Vivienne was impressed with her care and consideration as she regularly checked in to see if Vivienne was alright and how was she going.

A happy equilibrium was reached by a bunch of strangers.
It was inspirational to experience!

When I asked Vivienne what now … she said, she looks on this situation as an opportunity … she had planned to have a clean out this year – it just came a bit differently to how she expected. A bit quicker and more dramatic.

She was reminded of something someone said: “Wealth is what you have when you have lost everything!” Having lost a lot, she has realised that she is still Vivienne … and she now has a blank canvas and can choose a new life and put whatever she wants in it!

Vivienne is definitely looking forward to new opportunities out of this catastrophe.

How You Can Personally Help Vivienne Bounce Back

When I asked her how we could help her personally … she shared with me that she is passionate about the wider community growing their own food.

Vivienne has developed a system of growing a plentiful supply of food in a small space. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be in the ground. She has started a consultancy business where she personally teaches you how to do this.

If you want to support Vivienne to get back on her feet again … and you want some yummy food to eat that you’ve grown yourself … email her at … and she’ll give you all the details on how you can help her and help yourself save money and eat delicious home grown food for most of the year.

And … thanks so much for all your feedback saying how much you are enjoying these articles … stay tuned for more updates.


People Open Their Hearts To Queenslanders

Posted on: January 19th, 2011 by Julie Lewin No Comments

Spectacular Thunderstorm Ends The Day

As I write this blog post tonight … Warwick is totally surrounded by fierce clouds and a spectacular thunder and lightning show. As awe-inspiring as it is … it looks like the bombs going off in the London air raids. And the heartbreaking part is that the storm has made its way to Killarney … where the headwaters of the Condamine River start. Yes … its raining again.

A month ago … I would have marvelled at mother nature’s display, enjoyed the moment, and thought nothing more of it … but tonight I wonder … will the river flood again tomorrow, and what will that mean.

Good News

Today I spoke with one of our lovely Our Internet Secrets members from Ipswich. We had a phone coaching call scheduled for last Tuesday … and it was cancelled because she was packing up her home to save what she could from the flood that was raging towards Ipswich.

The great news is that because the Bremer River didn’t rise to the expected 21 metres – the water came into their yard, but not the house. Then, I was moved to tears as I listened to her talk about the storm that hit Brisbane and Ipswich last night … Sandra had a reaction to the storm that she’s never experienced before. She started shaking all over and was frightened for her husband and son who were being battered by the hail in their car.

This could be a common response in the coming months and years – till hopefully the horrors of the past weeks fade and pass.

Young Australians Make Us Proud

Another bright moment in my day … we had a lovely response to our email asking people to help Queenslanders affected by the floods.

“Andrew and Daryl,

Good on you.

My daughter Laura is on her way driving from Melbourne to QLD, she stayed in Coffs Harbour last night, and is on her way to help with the clean up. Do you know of any where she could stay either around Brisbane or Ipswich as she will arrive today. If you do could you please call me on xxxxxxxxxx as I will be at work, so won’t see my emails during the day.

Thank you,

Love to all in QLD,


I immediately rang my daughter in Brisbane and asked if they still had that mattress! She said, “Yes, why?” I told her about Laura and asked if they would mind if she stayed with them while she volunteered to help Queensland rebuild. My two kids and their flatmate, opened their home immediately to Laura and I’ve just heard that she has arrived … after driving from Melbourne by herself.

After talking to my daughter, I rang Carol and made the offer of accommodation for Laura. From one mum to another … I could tell she was really relieved to know that Laura had a safe place to bed down.

We were chatting about the last week … and Carol asked how we were going … I was surprised to be overcome with emotion and couldn’t speak … and when Carol asked if I was still there … tears streamed down my face in grief at the devastation Queensland has experienced in the past month. It was unexpected and for a moment embarrassing. And then we grieved together.

Young people of Australia are fantastic … it takes courage to drive half way across Australia on your own … knowing that you are entering a war zone scenario when you reach your destination. Not knowing what you’ll be asked to do, or what you will see, feel, hear or smell and with nowhere to sleep when you get there, but compelled to go … more than the pull to stay safely at home.

I have to say that Laura has come to volunteer in Queensland with the blessing of her employer in Melbourne. That’s why they call Australia the greatest country in the world … everyone pulling together.

An inspirational, emotional day … and so proud to be Australian.

In gratitude … Julie

Warwick – Two Floods In Two Weeks

Posted on: January 18th, 2011 by Julie Lewin No Comments

I live in Warwick on the Darling Downs in Queensland.  Like most people at Christmas, we had our family come to stay and we enjoyed a delicious Christmas lunch. Some family left early for Ipswich worried about The Gap.

Cunningham’s Gap has been closed off and on for repairs over the last 12 months. There have been land slips and road slips making the road unstable … and when the rain comes – you never know if the road is going to be open or closed.

On 27 December 2010 – our kids headed off home to Brisbane and returned 45 minutes later. The road to Toowoomba and Brisbane was closed.

Flooded Condamine River

Flooded Condamine River

The Condamine River had broken its banks and was rising. Being new to the area, I wasn’t sure what that meant … but we had an intuition that the O.O. Madsen Bridge – main bridge taking traffic through town … would go under. About midday we crossed over the swollen river to get supplies.

We bunkered down and played scrabble all afternoon … what else do you do when its pouring rain outside???

At 5pm, my husband interrupted our game and said, “You’ve got to come and have a look at this – its a once in a lifetime thing!” Not knowing what to expect, I went with him in the car … the bottom of our street had the river lapping at the edge. I was barefoot and in my pjs … but that didn’t stop me walking down to watch the river rise over the flooded O.O. Madsen Bridge.

Condamine lapping our street

Condamine River lapping our street

There were huge spiders crawling on the wet footpath trying to get out of the rising waters and I heard that snakes in the river were trying to get onto the bridge before it went under.

O.O. Madsen Bridge Warwick Flooded

O.O. Madsen Bridge Warwick

In one breath the sight was awe-inspiring … and in the next it was heartbreaking knowing that this water was going to destroy peoples homes and lives.

As night fell … the river continued to rise and we were isolated by flood water … but our house was on high ground and wouldn’t be affected.

The water dropped quickly the next day … and the road to Toowoomba was open after lunch. The kids made their getaway. Warwick wasn’t their idea of a fun place to be stuck during a flood. They arrived safely in Brisbane after a slow trip home.

We thought that would be the end of it … but it just kept raining and raining … the Condamine River as well as all the other rivers had to flow somewhere. And whole towns were evacuated. Heartbreaking.

We expected the rain to stop soon … but it didn’t.

My mother was visiting from Hervey Bay for a 3 week holiday and she was due to be taken home on Friday, 7 January.

We listened to the weather forecast and heard that there was high rainfall expected … but we didn’t really believe it would happen. Our plan of attack was that if it was raining on the morning of 7 January 2011 – we would stay put and take Mum home when the floods cleared. However, it wasn’t raining … so we set off for Hervey Bay. Foolish decision.

Cunningham’s Gap was open alternate hours … so we made it through there with a 20 minute wait. Two lanes had slipped and we took turns in going single file on the lane closest to the cliff face. You could tell that the workers were concerned for this section of the road. There were many landslides on The Gap.

At the bottom of the range it started to rain … and didn’t stop – all the way to Hervey Bay. From Caboolture the rain was so hard that we could just make out the tail lights of the car in front. It was very frightening – especially as the water was lapping bridges and road in many places.

It was one of those situations where we didn’t know if it was worse to go forward or go back.

We pushed forward slowly and arrived safely in Hervey Bay … very relieved. But we still had the home journey … did we stay put or risk it.

At 8am on 8 January, Frank and I started the homeward trek … the Lamington Bridge in Maryborough was closed – the river had risen at least 2 metres overnight. There was another route out of town. We made it to Gympie over many creeks lapping the bridges to find that the road was closed there. On the way, we could see how high the water had come … it had dropped metres in some places. I was very grateful we didn’t try to drive back through the night!

Thankfully, we had somewhere to stay at Gympie – and listened to the road condition updates every half hour – hoping for an escape from the rising waters. Luckily the rain stopped during the afternoon.

At 5.30am on 9 January 2011, we woke up to pouring rain again … Frank dialled the road conditions number and heard the road to Brisbane was open … we threw everything into the car and were on the road in 20 minutes. It was eerie … driving through Gympie – there was no other traffic about.

We managed to get onto the Bruce Highway and out of town … we didn’t see another car for an hour. It turned out that the road closed again around 8.30am and Gympie was severely flooded over the coming days. We were very lucky to get out.

Cunningham’s Gap was open, but the road had slipped by about another 75cm and had encroached into the one lane left by about 50cm.

Frank drive’s a taxi in Toowoomba and he was going to work on Monday, 10 January, but changed his mind after the horrific journey we’d had to and from Hervey Bay.

When we watched the flash flooding in Toowoomba that afternoon … we felt very blessed that he wasn’t there and heartbroken at the tragedy that unfolded that week.

100 year flood level - Condamine River - Warwick

100 year flood level - Condamine River

The rain kept coming … and the Condamine River rose again … higher than the 27 December 2010 flood – it reached the 100 year flood level. It was surreal to watch the flood waters rise up our street again so quickly.

We couldn’t believe our town could flood twice in 2 weeks. And then there were all the other towns downstream who would be devastated again, too.

We then watched in horror as the river rose in Ipswich and Brisbane. And … immensely grateful that our children were safe.

I have to confess … I have asked myself over and over “Why are some people blessed and others destroyed?” And there isn’t an answer.

But I do know that those who have been blessed are moved to help those you have lost everything.

I hope you will join me and others who have been blessed to support our vision to raise $50,000 or more for people who have been affected by the floods in Queensland.

Julie Lewin

Volunteering To Help – Multiply This By About 15,000+ Homes

Posted on: January 18th, 2011 by Glenn Walford No Comments

On Sunday of last weekend, myself and a few mates made our way up to Brisbane from the Gold Coast (about 1 hour north) armed with shovels, brooms, buckets and a gurney to try to at least provide some help to what we have all seen on TV as a truly massive cleaning and re-building task.

Helping Out

It really was quite strange to be driving toward what we knew were devastated areas by passing through surrounding untouched areas that were going about business as if nothing had happened. I suppose you expect that everyone and everything had stopped – thankfully, this is not the case.

We went out to one of the worst areas hit, Goodna, a suburb of Ipswich. This suburb was the one many would have seen the images of where businesses like the McDonald’s by the highway were totally underwater.

The caravan park on the way in was an absolute disaster zone with dozens of peoples’ homes scattered like toys throughout. A sobering site was to see a park bench wedged half way up a tall tree (photo) – this really gave us a feeling of the magnitude of what happened right where we were standing.

Park Bench in Goodna

We dropped into the St Ives shopping centre to see if we could assist a franchise owner whose business had been inundated, as it turned out an army of volunteers had already powered through that task.

The store owner asked if we could come out to where he lived at Karalee a suburb about another 15kms away – and one that is unfortunately right in the spot where the Brisbane and Bremer River’s meet. These were the two big water systems that caused all the damage so you can only imagine what the residents of Karalee went through.

We first stopped to help residents on Queensborough Parade, Karalee. It was a hive of activity as I estimate that every house along the street had at least 15 – 20 people working on them. Practically nothing in the houses was salvageable and the piles building up down the whole street were very obviously peoples’ entire lives on the nature strip.

It takes 9 months to build, and then only about 5 or so hours and 15 to 20 people to totally gut a house. This was the story of the day – once a house, now just a timber frame with tiles on top.

Multiply this by about 15,000 houses and then you get a picture of what is happening up here.

There were so many helpers that we were literally getting in each others way as there is such a tremendous spirit flowing through the entire region with so many pitching in to help.

We decided to move on further down the road. The drive down took as right along side the Bremer River which by now looked so calm and un-threatening. That was strange.

Further down, South Queensborough Parade has been utterly devastated. As it happens the Governor General, Quentin Bryce was there on that day to visit what is said to be one of the worst affected areas – so we were in the right spot.

Queensborough Parade, Karalee

Queensborough Parade, Karalee

After a number of proud home owners knocked back our offers for help, instead encouraging us to go further down the street to help, we ended up in Stuart Court.

We spent the next few hours with ‘Mel’ and her husband. Mel is a policewoman. I actually feel a little bad not knowing her husband’s name but he hardly said a word, and kept to himself, and as far as I could tell, never came inside the house. It must be very upsetting.

Their house was almost totally empty of possessions – that was all out the front in the driveway waiting for the Army bobcats and tippers to scrape them off the ground and take them to a landfill.

We gutted Mel’s lounge room, bedroom and laundry, while others did the rest of the house. We removed all the heavy, stinking, soaking wet plaster off the walls and the waterlogged insulation bats and piled it all up in the driveway with the help of so many friends and volunteers.

If it was your house, would you come inside to see that?

The water came up to roof height in Stuart Court. Mel and her husband and their two beautiful Bull Mastiff dogs had to swim out – she said she thought they were going to die, several times. They swum out of the house with the dogs and got to some higher ground and tried to get into a 4WD which they quickly found was seriously unstable. They climbed out and raced to a 3 story house where the water then rose up to the third level.

An emergency call saw them finally rescued 2 hours later by boat. Incredible.

It was a very moving experience to meet these people and see them coping so amazingly well with what is just, devastation. I have no other words to describe it.

I have uploaded a few photos of the area just to give you an idea of what is needed to be done, and will continue to for a long time into the future. Please do give what ever you can so that the thousands of families can re-build and get their lives back on track.

Stuart Court, Karalee

Our thoughts are with them all.

Glenn Walford

Before and after photos of Brisbane Flood

Posted on: January 18th, 2011 by Annette Welsford No Comments

High-resolution aerial photos taken over Brisbane last week have revealed the scale of devastation across dozens of suburbs and tens of thousands of homes and businesses.  

Suncorp Stadium – Home of Qld State of Origin Matches, Brisbane Broncos, Qld Roar and venue for many great concerts  

Suncorp Stadium
Suncorp Stadium in flood 
Rocklea Wholesale Markets which supply fresh produce to all of South East Queensland 



Rocklea Markets
Rocklea Markets in flood 
Bundama Region of Ipswich 

Ipswich Bundama region of Ipswich in flood 

To view more before and after shots of other regions in Brisbane visit