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.
Cyclone 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 four priority sites to prevent continued scour and outflanking and to protect areas of past investment. O’Connell River case study.
- Bakers Creek – Additional rock protection at outlet of Reef Catchment’s constructed wetland
- Oaky Creek to undergo a reach scale program of management including bank stabilisation and increasing riparian vegetation. Oaky Creek Restoring Riparian Resilience and 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. Cherry Tree Creek case study
- Gregory River – bank stabilisation works and revegetation at two priority sites. Gregory River Case Study
- Marion Creek – Bank stabilisation and revegetation works to be conducted on eroding downstream bank adjacent to Notch Road. Information on the Marion Creek case study..
- O’Connell River – Bank stabilisation and revegetation works to be conducted opposite Reef Catchment’s pile fields restoration site. O’Connell River case study.
- St Helens Creek – A combination of structural protection, bank re-profiling and revegetation works to be conducted at six priority sites. Information on the St Helens Creek case study.
- West Hill Creek – Structural toe protection, bank re-profiling and revegetation works to be conducted on three eroding banks upstream of the Bruce Highway. More information on the West Hill Creek restoration.
All works were completed at 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 studies of techniques used in river restoration see Reef Catchments’ River Restoration webpage.
Key Contact – Chris Dench
Position: Project Officer – Healthy Waterways
Phone: (07) 4964 6102
Mobile: 0407 538 724
E-Mail: Chris Dench
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.