There were businesses, public facilities and sporting clubs across Ipswich that were permanently transformed in the wake of the 2011 floods, including (main image) Coles in the CBD, Colleges Crossing, Goodna Bowls Club, the Ipswich Knights and the Ipswich Transit Centre.
There were businesses, public facilities and sporting clubs across Ipswich that were permanently transformed in the wake of the 2011 floods, including (main image) Coles in the CBD, Colleges Crossing, Goodna Bowls Club, the Ipswich Knights and the Ipswich Transit Centre.

Ipswich landmarks forever changed by 2011 disaster

IT WAS the biggest flood the people of Ipswich had seen since 1974, and for some, memories were hazy at best by the time 2011 came around.

When the floods hit full steam across Ipswich on the morning of Wednesday January 12, people were already prepared for the worst, but they were still in for a shock.

In the few days leading up to the peak, we had already witnessed tragedy in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, and with water also being released from a rapidly filling Wivenhoe Dam, it was pretty clear something awful was headed our way.

The official Bremer River flood peak of 19.4m may have been slightly lower than the 1974 mark of 20.7m, but in many ways the devastation inflicted was similar, if not worse.

Huge flows shooting down the Brisbane River meant the Bremer River, and major creeks like the Bundamba, Warrill, Woogaroo and others were backed up, resulting in a slow moving sludge that inundated thousands of homes and businesses.

This triggered the start of a massive clean up and rebuilding process for business owners, residents, and the various levels of government.

As part of our 10th anniversary retrospective on the 2011 floods, we are looking at four prominent land marks that were forever changed after this epic natural disaster.

1. Coles supermarket, Ipswich CBD

Clean up near Coles at Ipswich
Clean up near Coles at Ipswich

The ‘old’ Coles was such a familiar landmark, it would have been hard to ever imagine it changing.

Sitting in between Limestone, Brisbane and Gordon St, Coles was and still is in one of the most flood prone areas of town.

Flooding in Ipswich on Wednesday. Ipswich CBD looking West. Coles in centre, Ipswich Hospital top left of frame. Photo: Rob Williams
Flooding in Ipswich on Wednesday. Ipswich CBD looking West. Coles in centre, Ipswich Hospital top left of frame. Photo: Rob Williams

We were reminded of this again in 2011, when Coles was left sitting up to its roof in muddy waters from the Bremer.

Seeing no point in rebuilding the supermarket in its old format, the owners set about demolishing the old building and constructing a new 6000sq m building above the flood level.

It took a while, but the new-look Coles finally opened in February, 2013.

Pictured is Coles, Ipswich which was flooded in 2011. Photo by Chris McCormack.
Pictured is Coles, Ipswich which was flooded in 2011. Photo by Chris McCormack.

The old Coles was never the same again, but to be fair, it did come back bigger and better.

2. Colleges Crossing

Colleges Crossing after the flood, 2011. Photo: Rob Williams
Colleges Crossing after the flood, 2011. Photo: Rob Williams

Few sites were more depressing in the wake of the 2011 floods than Colleges Crossing.

A river haven where many Ipswich people have happy childhood memories was left looking like a nuclear bomb had hit it, and with the terrifying volume of water that was sent down the Brisbane River at the time, it was no surprise.

Ipswich City Council, with the help of significant Federal Government funding, embarked on a massive $14 million refurbishment of the entire precinct.

Colleges Crossing was badly damaged in the floods of 2013, only a short time after being refurbished from the 2011 floods.
Colleges Crossing was badly damaged in the floods of 2013, only a short time after being refurbished from the 2011 floods.

The result was a stunning transformation, but was tragically smashed again in January, 2013, resulting in another multimillion rebuild.

While the facilities are better than ever, Colleges Crossing itself was permanently altered in the floods.

For better or worse, Mother Nature has the final say.

3. Ipswich Transit Centre

The Ipswich transit centre during the 2011 flood. Photo: Andrew Korner
The Ipswich transit centre during the 2011 flood. Photo: Andrew Korner

Hard to believe that we are looking back after 10 years, and the Ipswich Transit Centre is still the same depressing, dark, derelict eyesore that it was after the floods.

While a theatre group made a brief, ill-fated attempt to revive the space after it was cleaned up, it has sat idle ever since.

The Transit Centre sits underneath the southern end of the Trumpy Bridge, putting it under several metres of water during the peak of the 2011 floods.

The abandoned Ipswich Transit Centre in the CBD.
The abandoned Ipswich Transit Centre in the CBD.

A picture taken by the QT about midday on January 12, 2011 gives an idea of how far under it went, although the actual peak of the flood didn’t come until several hours after the picture was taken.

Unfortunately there was no happy ending or silver lining to the Transit Centre story.

4. The Ipswich Knights

Ipswich Knights life members Robbie Hughes and Ross Hallett bid farewell to the former clubhouse in 2011. The old building had to be demolished after the floods.
Ipswich Knights life members Robbie Hughes and Ross Hallett bid farewell to the former clubhouse in 2011. The old building had to be demolished after the floods.

The Ipswich football club at Bundamba is no stranger to flooding, being perched on the Bundamba Creek.

Along with various minor incidents over the decades, flooding had previously hit the club in 2008 and 2009, but 2011 was a different beast altogether.

The old brick clubhouse that had served Coalstars and the Knights so well for several decades had to be bulldozed, despite a stellar effort from volunteers to clean out all the mud and debris.

The Ipswich Knights Football Club was well under water in 2011, resulting in the loss of the old clubhouse.
The Ipswich Knights Football Club was well under water in 2011, resulting in the loss of the old clubhouse.

While construction on a new clubhouse got underway, the Knights players and officials survived out of demountable buildings for a couple of seasons, but it was well worth the wait.

Perched on a mound above the flood line, the new clubhouse, which opened early 2013, was unlike any facility the club had enjoyed before.

The opening of the new facility coincided with the Knights return to the Premier League, after five years battling away in first division.

5. Goodna Bowls Club

Cathy Wilmington of the Goodna Bowls Club which needs to be knocked down due to flood damage. Pic Isaac Lawrence.
Cathy Wilmington of the Goodna Bowls Club which needs to be knocked down due to flood damage. Pic Isaac Lawrence.

This long established club was right in the firing line of the 2011 floods, and stood no chance of surviving in its old format.

While the club battled on with demountables for two years, work got underway to construct a new facility, at a cost of about $2.4 million, which made it the second biggest reconstruction project undertaken by Ipswich City Council behind Colleges Crossing.

The lawn bowls green of the Goodna Bowling club covered by inches of mud in the suburb of Goodna in Ipswich, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
The lawn bowls green of the Goodna Bowling club covered by inches of mud in the suburb of Goodna in Ipswich, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Cr Paul Tully and Goodna Bowls Club president Mal Levarre-Waters celebrate the opening of the new clubhouse in February 2013 – two years after floods destroyed the old facility.
Cr Paul Tully and Goodna Bowls Club president Mal Levarre-Waters celebrate the opening of the new clubhouse in February 2013 – two years after floods destroyed the old facility.

The project also qualified for Queensland Government Reconstruction Authority funds at the time.

Although the club lost an estimated $200,000 in revenue during the reconstruction period, it came away with a modern facility that has helped it prosper in the past seven years.

This was another cloud with a silver lining.