Australian Short Stories – Back to Imbil
By Lindsay Harris
It was a busy time after we moved to Imbil. Beat had to get Glenda and Jill settled in their new school as well as organize our new home. It was a whole new experience for us to be living in a house with someone else even if it was my Mum. However we needn’t have worried, it all worked out well and Mum was pleased to have our company. We moved about the middle of February 1955, and I was able to bring the David Brown to Imbil soon after and do the ploughing for our new enterprise. We reckoned we had earned a holiday, so we splashed out and did something different by booking a house at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast and after getting settled into our home in Imbil, we set off on the holiday and the start of another new and interesting chapter in our lives.
We had a wonderful time with the kids, the house we rented was a beauty that belonged to a western grazier, and was right on the beach near the new Broadbeach Hotel. It had a big yard fronting the ocean, which was a great place for the kids to play. We could literally fall out of bed into the sea, and I think that because of this a few years down the track the house had to be moved, as the beach badly eroded and almost washed the house away.
We had a great time, but we have since thought about how lucky we were as there were plenty of rips in the surf. However, ignorance is bliss and all went well. The Gold Coast then is nothing like it is now. The boom was just beginning, and the Broadbeach Hotel quite near us was new and right up with the times and was a symbol of the boom. About thirty years later this beautiful building was considered to be out of date and was razed to make way for a bigger and better one.
We came home on Saturday, March 26, 1955, during what turned out to be a very big and very wet cyclone, particularly for the Mary River and its tributaries. When we crossed the Hornibrook Highway huge waves were hitting the side of the bridge and almost breaking on the road, and the spray from them was all over the car. We got home OK but Yabba creek was rising quickly and rain was pouring down so the best place was in the house.
About seven o’clock that night there was a power failure which we thought was normal happening considering the conditions. An hour later I decided to take a walk outside, and when I went out the back gate was walking in water up to my ankles. As the creek was at least two hundred yards (about 200 meters) away creek water was the last thing I expected. The annual floods usually came up a bit above the handrails on the traffic bridge but never anything like this. We had checked the water height at dark and there was no need for concern then. The house was on high stumps but after paddling in water just outside (it was still raining cats and dogs) we decided to evacuate the house. We knew this was no ordinary flood because of the smell and the noise from the rising water.