Tilpa, Wilcannia is bracing for more flooding as water moves down the Darling River

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As flooding continues to ravage large parts of New South Wales, communities in the far west are bracing for the impact of downstream flows from the Darling River.

For the past two weeks, the town of Tilpa has been evacuated, while some roads leading into Bourke have been closed.

The river is expected to peak in Tilpa over the next week and possibly reach 13.1 metres, causing major flooding.

Downstream in Wilcannia, the Darling River may reach around 11 meters and cause minor flooding in some areas.

State Emergency Service’s Dave Rankin said residents should exercise the utmost caution over the next few months, especially while driving.

“The flooding is slow-moving and fairly widespread in western New South Wales, so the decision to drive through that floodwater is made by the driver,” he said.

“We want to ask people that this is not the last decision you ever make.

“[When] people, for whatever reason, think their vehicle is above the impact of the flood … it very rarely ends well.”

Drone shot of the Darling River at the Wilcannia flood, February 2022.
The Darling River peaked at 10 meters at Wilcannia in February this year. (Delivered)

Rankin said in the past month, Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke all experienced major flooding.

He said the next towns to be affected would be Louth, Tilpa and Wilcannia before the water moved on to the Menindee Lake system.

Memories of drought still linger

Vidale Station owner and grazier Belinda Bennett’s property backs up to the Darling River downstream from Tilpa.

Brown water dotted with trees and a blue sky in the background
Talyawalker Bridge at Louth completely underwater from major flooding earlier this month.(Provided by: Tom Murray)

She said her family did not complain in any way about the amount of rain in the past few months, but the flooding had caused some problems during work on the property.

“We don’t get wet feet in the house at first, but [the water] has actually come up through our front gate, which is only a kilometer from the main river,” she said.

“There are several thousand hectares that we cannot cultivate there at the moment.

“But when the water recedes and the feed comes up, it’s just going to be great for us to try to catch up a little bit after the drought … it’s still had a huge impact for years.”

Menindee focus area

Tony Webber from WaterNSW said the organisation’s main focus was on the already full Menindee Lakes and trying to prevent major flooding in the town of Menindee.

The lakes are already at 103 percent capacity, and another 2,000 gigaliters are expected to flow into the system at the end of December.

see flood warning 2
The Menindee Lakes system is already at full capacity.(Provided by: Darren Larkin)

“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to deal with this flood again without affecting properties in Menindee,” he said.

“This is probably the fourth major event to come up through the lakes this year and our worst fears have not been realized.”

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