‘Essential service’ choppered in to flood-hit town

A CAFE went to extraordinary lengths to avoid an outback Queensland town going cold-turkey on caffeine, hiring a chopper to fly their barista over rising floodwaters.

Charlotte's Nest cafe owner Courtney Bylett was in Sydney when she heard roads were being flooded around Charleville by torrential rains, cutting off the town's senior barista Sue McDonald.

Ms Bylett said she was forced to take action after caffeine-addicted locals raised their alarm.

"All the water came up too quickly," she said

"I was getting messages asking 'when are we getting coffee?'"

"In order to keep the show going, the only way to get her in was via chopper," she said.

Ms Bylett said she coughed up around $200 to get her barista across the vast inland sea which formed from intense rainfall around Charleville over the weekend.

Aerial view of Charleville after a period of rain resulting in the Warrego River close to going over the road. Picture: Leon O'Neil
Aerial view of Charleville after a period of rain resulting in the Warrego River close to going over the road. Picture: Leon O'Neil

"It was either be shut for a week or helicopter in my head barista," she said.

Ms Bylett, who has operated Charlotte's Nest in Charleville for three years, said the floods were of little inconvenience compared to the benefit they were having on the community.

"We were in drought one week and the next week we're flooding," she said.

"It's amazing, absolutely amazing."

 

Sue arrived in style to work today! The length you go to get your employees to work, and bring coffee to the people!...

Posted by Charlotte's Nest on Monday, 24 February 2020

 

It comes as outback towns and graziers crippled by drought for eight years celebrated widespread rain which were filling dams and turning dry creekbeds into raging torrents.

Sixty-one-year-old grazier Will Robert, who has lived on Victoria Downs station since he was six months old, said the much-needed rain had replenished paddocks.

"Some paddocks are a little bit brown but there's a lot more green than brown," Mr Robert said.

"I think it's just relief more than anything."

"Everything's been looking after itself since the 9th or 10th February."

He said he wouldn't restock his cattle and sheep numbers, despite this month's rainfall.

"The country really needs a bit of a rest, we're very conscious of allowing nature to do its thing.

"Our rainfall records go back to 1906, and 2017 was our driest year on record, and then 2018 was lower again, and then 2019 was lower again."

Major flooding is still being experienced downstream, with the Balonne River in St George expected to peak tonight at 12.3m, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

A playground is surrounded by flood water in St George. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.
A playground is surrounded by flood water in St George. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.

Residents of some low-lying homes were notified that they would need to seek alternative accommodation once floodwaters hit 12 metres, with Ergon cutting power as a precaution.

An emergency declaration made by Queensland Police on Tuesday remains in effect.

The town is expected to remain flooded through the weekend, but Balonne mayor Richard Marsh said he didn't expect any homes to be inundated.

Water from the swollen Balonne river begin to flood the Andrew Nixon bridge in St George, southwestern Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.
Water from the swollen Balonne river begin to flood the Andrew Nixon bridge in St George, southwestern Queensland. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled.

"As water recedes over the weekend, the highway and any flooded roads will remain closed until they are inspected and deemed safe to reopen," Cr Marsh said.

He urged locals to avoid flooded roads after several motorists became stranded on closed roads on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"We don't want to see anyone putting their own lives at risk as well as those of our SES and QFES teams," Cr Marsh said.


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