Town’s history flooded with challenges
One of the constants in Seymour’s colourful history is its inevitable flooding.
Across its 175-year history the township has suffered the effects of flooding regularly.
But the flood of 1916-17 remains the most enduring memory recorded in the history books.
It lists the two floods as having an important influence on the town in regard to the Old Town (Emily St) being evacuated in favour of Station St.
The most recent flood was less than 12 months ago when December rain fell for almost 72 hours and shut down 15 roads in Mitchell Shire.
Both Mitchell Shire and VicRoads were forced to close roads across Seymour and the region and the SES was ‘flooded’ with calls — for fallen trees, damage to homes and localised flooding.
And in its spare time the emergency service volunteers coordinated filling sandbags with 30 tonnes of sand, which were collected by people as needed.
SES responded to 34 calls – including one for someone stuck in floodwater.
The worst hit areas were around Whiteheads Creek, Seymour and parts of Avenel and Mangalore, while there were also calls for assistance in Tallarook, Broadford and Clonbinane.
There was 200mm of rain recorded in the Goulburn River catchment and council had 10 crews active at the height of the storm as well as specialist drainage and tree removal contractors.
It wasn’t the first time Seymour flooded – and it definitely was not the worst.
After the great flood of 1870 the town suffered flooding at regular intervals (in 1906, 1909, and 1912), but in 1916 there was more than 160mm of rain between Thursday and Saturday. Then, on Saturday evening, another 50mm of rain fell.
The flood level exceeded 1870 by four inches, then in June 1917 the river rose again to the lower end of Station St. The migration to the New Town was hastened in June 1917 when Emily and Tallarook streets again went under.
There were floods in 1923, 1934, and 1939, but with the construction of the Eildon dam the threat was reduced.
There were floods again in 1953, 1961, 1966 and 1973 (in April). More than 170mm of rain fell in the catchment of Whitehead’s Creek in 1973 and with little waning of the impending disaster water filled homes never before threatened by floods.
A woman drowned and property damage was extreme.
In 1974 the Goulburn flooded and a second life was claimed, that of a young soldier engaged in rescue work.
Among the first recorded floods for Seymour was 1847 which first demonstrated the one great weakness in Seymour’s original position as a township.