Resilience in the rain

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charlton flooded

Image by Veronica Bradley

Nestled on the banks of the Avoca River, the regional town of Charlton in Victoria’s north-west was one of the communities affected by last week’s floods.

Last Friday, the Avoca River peaked at a height of 7.55 metres, causing major flooding to roads and threatened to inundate the town.

Rev Veronica Bradley, minister at Charlton Uniting Church, lives next to the river. She said some roads have been cut off, but there has been minimal damage to property and power is largely restored.

“The river did come up fairly high, but fortunately no one had to be evacuated,” she said.

“We really feel like we dodged a bullet.”

The small agricultural town, with a population of approximately 1,200 residents, is no stranger to floods.

Five years ago, Charlton was devastated when the Avoca River broke its banks. An estimated 300 houses were inundated with 80 per cent of the town underwater. The local hospital and supermarket were destroyed and helicopters had to drop food parcels into the town. Farmers were among the hardest hit with widespread damage to crops.

“When I spoke to the locals and farmers, their biggest worry and anxiety was that this would happen again,” Ms Bradley said.

charlton flooded

Image by Veronica Bradley

As the river level rose, some elderly residents were invited to stay in houses on higher ground to ease their anxiety.

Many of the local Uniting Church members are also volunteers in the SES (State Emergency Service) or Red Cross.

Ms Bradley said the tight-knit Charlton community looks after each other during times of crises and paid tribute to hard work of the SES who responded to emergencies throughout the night.

“The emergency services were brilliant, they kept everyone informed,” she said.

Flooded Yeungroon Creek

Image: John Schork (

Ms Bradley was ordained as a Uniting Church minster earlier this year and began her placement in the Nardoo Loddon cluster, covering Charlton, Powlett Plains, Wedderburn and Boort.

As a relative newcomer to the town, Ms Bradley said the locals helped her prepare for the possibility of flooding.

“I’ve never been in a flood before, but people told me what to expect, what to look out for and what roads to take,” Ms Bradley said.

“They are very practical in their advice and aware of people who are new to the community.”

The town is remaining vigilant for further flood warnings, with more rain forecast for this week.

Visit the Bureau of Metrology website for the most up-to-date weather warnings.

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