Why the Douglas and Daintree regions are more flood resistant than other areas


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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FLOWING: The natural landscape around the Daintree River works as a natural drain system for heavy rain. Image: Newsport.

As Townsville continues to be battered by flooding and heavy rains, it creates a stark contrast to the Australia Day flooding experienced in the Far North.

Towns and businesses in the Douglas Shire and surrounding regions have been able to bounce back from the big wet as the floodwater here receded very quickly.

As the water sticks around the streets and riverbanks further south, we can be thankful in the Far North for our naturally flood resistant landscape.

Professor of Geoscience at JCU Cairns, Jonathan Nott, said there are two reasons the Daintree and surrounding areas are so flood resilient.

“First, if we are comparing what’s happening in Townsville right now to the recent Daintree floods, the rain event in Townsville is lasting longer than it did in the Daintree,” he said. 

“The second reason is the coastal plain north of Cairns is much narrower than around Townsville.

“They have a broader area of flood plain for water to move across and stay on.”

It’s the narrow valleys and many tributary streams around the Daintree and Mossman rivers that allow for heavy rain and floodwaters to drain away from the land so quickly.

“If we think about the Daintree River, it’s mostly in a narrow valley until it almost gets to the beach, which is still well downstream of Daintree Village,” Dr Nott said.

“A lot of the river system is contained in that relatively narrow valley, not a wide coastal plain for water to accumulate on.


“It’s much the same with the Mossman River; it’s really only wide from the Mossman Gorge to the Coast, which isn’t that far.”

Dr Nott said the natural scope of the landscape in this region creates an ideal situation for flood resilience.

“The drainage density of the Daintree is quite high with a large number of streams per unit area of land,” he said.

“That basically means because the Daintree has very high rainfall on average it creates more streams and the more streams there are allowing water to run off, floodwater drains away quicker.”




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