Water

Natural Disaster Recovery Program

Reef Catchments is working to restore and increase the resilience of our region in response to the impact of natural disasters, in particular Severe Tropical Cyclone (STC) Debbie.

Australian and Queensland Government funding has been provided through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Program (NDRRA). Our recovery projects have a long-term goal to help build a landscape more equipped to withstand and recover from any natural disasters of the future.

Oakey CreekCyclone Debbie impact

STC Debbie crossed the Queensland coast at Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays on the 28 March 2017 as a category 4 cyclone. With wind gusts of up to 268 km/hr, an eye that was up to 100 km wide and a speed of as low as 4 km/h, STC Debbie and associated floodwaters caused widespread destruction throughout the region.

Waterways in many areas were flooded and cut away banks up to 30 m into productive land and left vertical banks of up to 6 m high. Banks were stripped of vegetation, with sheer unstable banks that were highly susceptible to further erosion.

What we’re doing

Reef Catchments current disaster recovery projects are focused on remediating priority sites. Each site has undergone spatial and hydrological assessment to determine the best option for remediation. Remediation options being utilised include a combination of bank profiling, log jam structures, pile fields, rock reinforcement and revegetation.

Projects will be delivered in two stages, as outlined below.

RC Stage 1 projects

  • O’Connell River – Additional rock protection and revegetation to be installed at upstream end of Reef Catchment’s pile fields restoration site to prevent continued scour and outflanking
  • Bakers Creek – Additional rock protection at outlet of Reef Catchment’s constructed wetland
  • O’Connell River – Bank protection works and revegetation to protect recent revegetation works at Reef Catchment’s Log Jam restoration site
  • O’Connell River – Upstream end of rock toe protection to be extended and the site revegetated to protect two past Reef Catchment’s restoration sites
  • Oaky Creek to undergo a reach scale program of management including bank stabilisation and increasing riparian vegetation. More information on the Oaky Creek Restoration program

RC Stage 2 projects

  • Cherry Tree Creek – Bank stabilisation and revegetation works to be conducted at downstream and upstream end of reach adjacent Reef Catchment’s past restoration site
  • Marion Creek – Bank stabilisation and revegetation works to be conducted on eroding downstream bank adjacent to Notch Road
  • O’Connell River – Bank stabilisation and revegetation works to be conducted opposite Reef Catchment’s pile fields restoration site
  • St Helens Creek – A combination of structural protection, bank re-profiling and revegetation works to be conducted at six priority sites
  • West Hill Creek – Structural toe protection, bank re-profiling and revegetation works to be conducted on two eroding banks upstream of the Bruce Highway. More information on the West Hill Creek restoration.

All works are to be completed by the end of June 2019.

Funded partner projects

Mackay and Whitsundays Regional Council’s and the Whitsunday River Improvements Trust also received funding for projects under the NDRRA. Works will be conducted at sites on the Proserpine River, Campbell Creek in the Whitsundays and Little McCready’s Creek, Mackay.

River restoration information

Reef Catchments Disaster Recovery Projects follow advanced science and standards of practice for river restoration. For more information and case study’s of techniques used in river restoration see Reef Catchments’ River Restoration webpage.

Key Contact


Project Officer – Riparian and Streambank Repair
M 0409 677 117
E Olivia Brodhurst

This program is funded by the Australian and Queensland Government’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. Obtaining this funding was only made possible due to initial investment from Reef Catchments, Canegrowers Mackay and the Whitsunday River Improvements Trust to undertake the rapid assessment of the impacts of Cyclone Debbie and quantify works required.