SA Murray River shack owners brace for flooding as water flow increases from La Niña events

Shack owners along the Murray River in South Australia are being told by a local council to prepare for possible flooding.

Mark Dutton owns the second-lowest-lying shack in the town of Morgan, about two hours east of Adelaide.

His home has been inundated twice before and he knows it could go under again soon.

“You’ve got to be sensible and say when we purchased that shack, we knew where we were purchasing it, so you can’t be surprised that rivers flood — that’s what they do,” Mr Dutton said.

“It’s part of the beauty of the area after a flood — it’s just amazing — the bird life in the backwaters come to life. 

Two river shacks with two to three metres of water flooding along the Murray.
Mr Dutton and his neighbour have the lowest-lying shacks in Morgan. Both were flooded in 2011 and 2016.(Supplied: Mark Dutton)

“We saw spoonbills from our rear balcony fishing for yabbies in the conservation park out behind our place.

“But obviously to get that it’s a lot of moving furniture, it’s a lot of cleaning up after a flood. And you get those extended periods of time where you can’t access your shack, let alone use it.

“Effectively, your place becomes the bottom of the river, so you’ve got to clean all that mud and silt and muck out of there. So it’s a bit of a menace. It’s a bit unpleasant.”

A sodden and muddy floor, with water marks on the wall of the shack.
Mr Dutton says the water got to about three feet inside his shack, causing about $15-20,000 worth of damage.(Supplied: Mark Dutton)

Mr Dutton said while he understood the risk to his property, he wanted earlier warning from authorities.

“On both occasions in the past, the flood warnings come from the ferry operator,” he said.

“So, the earlier we can find out, the better; if for nothing to mentally prepare ourselves for ‘here we go again’.

A backyard flooded, with mud and water covering part of a swing set and slide, and damaged wooden stairs.
The Duttons had no problem getting insurance for his shack, despite it being in a flood zone.(Supplied: Mark Dutton)

Mid Murray Council chief executive Ben Scales said preparations for protecting infrastructure and alerting property owners were underway.

“Our plan will be to look at our assets — our swim systems and potential roads that we have — that we know that create issues depending on the flow of the river, and some pontoons on our boat ramps, where we need to look at taking them away if it gets too high,” he said.

‘More health in the Murray’

Downstream in Mannum, David Hartley and his wife Wendy run a business leasing river shacks for holidays.

He said the increasing flows had been a drawcard for visitors, with an abundance of wildlife around.

Posted , updated 

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