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Menindee’s mixed reactions

Monday, 20th February, 2012

NO WORRIES: Maiden’s Hotel licensee Noelene Ratcliff isn’t much worried about the impending floodwaters. NO WORRIES: Maiden’s Hotel licensee Noelene Ratcliff isn’t much worried about the impending floodwaters.

By Emily Roberts

Just how serious the threat from floodwaters coming from the north is in Menindee depends on who you ask in the town.

Maiden’s Hotel licensee, Noelene Ratcliff, has the Darling River near the back door - but she isn’t worried.

“It won’t hit the fence. Before the (levee) bank was put up, the water used to hit the box trees,” Ms Ratcliff said.

“In the 1956 flood, you used to be able to row out.”

Ms Ratcliff said locals weren’t boating into the hotel just yet.

“I think we’ll be safe. The pub will be fine.”

She said if the pub did flood then the whole town would go under too because the pub sit higher than some other parts of town.

“The ones who go under will know what to do; they are long time veterans,” she said.

“They have been through enough floods to know what’s going on. But I don’t say they are happy about it, it is just a fact of living on the river.”

Ms Ratcliff said Menindee people will often move to higher ground or stay in a caravan or with friends.

“They sort out some sort of alternative arrangement. Life just goes on.

“Last year when it flooded, some residents moved to Sunset Strip. A lot of residents have weekend blocks and some are permanent residents.”

Ms Ratcliff said the higher river had been good for the hotel.

“Business has probably improved. People come up here to go yabbying, tourists everywhere come to look at the water and Broken Hill people come up to look at the flood water and then say ‘I’ll have lunch at Maidens’,” she said.

This weekend the local SES will start filling sand bags in preparation.

“My eldest son, who is 11, has been asked to help fill sand bags,”Mrs Ratcliffe said

She said the Menindee Central School won’t flood and children won’t have trouble getting to school.

“There are a couple of students who travel in from Wilcannia Road and Sunset Strip,” she said.

“But they won’t have any trouble getting in because they are not on the river.”

But the proprietor of the Burke and Wills Motel, Darryl Cowie, isn’t as relaxed about the prospect of flooding.

“It closes all the roads which slows things down. The majority of my visitors come for work related reasons, like to work on the railways or for Essential Energy,” he said.

“I don’t get many visitors for sightseeing, they have day trips instead.

“The first lot of flood water helped as it was just intake into the lakes. Having too much water doesn’t help,” he said.

“If it rains, I get a few campers who are stuck come in.” 

Mr Cowie said the caravan park was probably having the same trouble as him at the moment.

He believes that having the roads out of Menindee sealed would be good idea, as people would stay overnight and do a river run.

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