Aug 12, 2016

Flood of memories 100 years after Clermont disaster

Flood of memories 100 years after Clermont disaster Clermont Historical Centre co-ordinator Deb Alvoen is preparing the 'Flood of Memories' exhibition.

Clermont’s Gold and Coal Festival will have a significant historical focus this year as the community commemorates the devastating flood that killed more than 60 people 100 years ago.

A floating lantern ceremony is planned next Friday evening (August 19) as part of the two-day festival, according to Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker.

“Some 300 lanterns will be released onto Hoods Lagoon to commemorate the flood, while lotus flower lanterns will also be released to honor those who lost their lives,” she said.

The flood will also be the focus of an exhibition opening on August 31 at the Clermont Historical Centre.

The Hotel Leo being towed by a tractor to higher ground after the 1916 flood in Clermont. Image: National Library of Australia.

Centre co-ordinator Deb Alvoen said the Flood of Memories exhibition told a remarkable story of the December 1916 disaster and how the people of Clermont were instrumental in determining their own future.

Most of the township was washed away and about 65 people out of a population of 1500 were drowned.

In the aftermath, the town was re-established on a safer site – with surviving buildings moved to higher ground using tractors and large rolling logs.

During a public meeting on January 5, 1917, the Minister for Public Instruction and member for the district, Mr H.F. Hardacre, had encouraged the people to “endeavour to build a better Clermont”, she said.

Ms Alvoen said Australian Geographic listed the event in the Top 10 of the deadliest floods in Australian history with 65 deaths, 10 homes destroyed, 50 buildings damaged and 10,000 livestock killed.

Originally there were three pianos found in trees after flood waters receded, she said.

Today a replica in a tree in Capricorn St is a popular tourist photo opportunity and stands as a stark reminder of the flood’s power.

A mass grave of the flood victims is also located in the Clermont Cemetery.

Ms Alvoen said the flood event had definitely helped shape the Clermont of today – from its relocation through to the sense of history.

“The people of Clermont are proud of their history and that resilience is still visible today, during the mining downturn in particular,” she said.

Isaac Regional Council has a range of community events planned in the lead-up to and on the anniversary of the December 28, 1916 flood.


* Clermont’s Gold and Coal Festival for 2016 will kick off with twilight markets and local performances on Friday (August 19) from 5pm.

It continues on Saturday with activities including the ‘Pimp Yo Pan’ Art Competition judging. The Floating Lantern Ceremony will take place 8pm on Friday.

For more information visit  www.clermontartslink.com