After reported cyclonic weather off Brisbane, on the 4th of February 1893 the swollen Brisbane River burst its banks and deluged a large portion of the main business district of Brisbane and inundated many of the low lying suburbs. This flood had come some three years after a similiar less destructive flood in 1890.
The Brisbane community was very mindful of the devestation that was wrought by the earlier flood and many were quick to remove furniture and belongings to higher ground. However those who just escaped inundation from the earlier flood were complacent and watched in disbelief as the waters rose and engulfed their possessions. The 1893 Brisbane flood claimed the record as the worst flood experienced in the Brisbane area since white settlement.
Brisbane at the time was a vibrant port with vessels coming up the river to the wharves spread from Eagle Street to Albert Street and those lining the banks of South Brisbane.
Being a river port, it presented a particular dilemia for authorities. Large ocean-going vessels had to be moored securely or become dislodged from their moorings and float with the flood potentially causing damage to wharf structures and bridges. Rising waters caused large ocean vessels to float above the roof lines of the wharves causing damage to the structures.
The low lying areas of South Brisbane and West End on the banks of the river were especially vunerable to the raging torrent. The force of the water shifted houses from their stumps in West End and sent them down river to be smashed against the pylons of the Victoria Bridge.
This punishment along with the force of the water eventually collapsed half of the bridge superstructure nearest the northern bank and it was washed away. Floating houses then became a danger to the ships anchored in the river. All through the remaining days of the flood the sound of houses being dashed against the bows of the ships became familiar.
The newspaper the 'Brisbane Courier' reported on the 1893 floods and excerpts from newspaper articles covering the are contained on the webpages:
Having endured the initial flood and watched the waters recede, Brisbane inhabitants watched again in a fortnight's time as they were indundated with a second wave of flooding, just falling 25cm short of the initial flood's height.
The Queensland State Library digital image database has a collection of photographs which were taken during this time. They have been grouped into albums which depict a theme and are provided in a slideshow format
River Views Album documents the force of the flood and the extent of inundation. The worst hit suburbs were those of West End and South Brisbane where houses and businesses were totally devastated.
The South Brisbane Album records the damage incurred and the residents efforts to cope with it.
The North Bank Suburbs Album. On the north bank of the river, the suburbs on Breakfast Creek were inundated such as Albion and Newstead along with low lying areas of New Farm. Areas of Milton and Toowong were seriously flooded.
Brisbane's other bridge connecting the north bank to the south bank was the railway bridge at Indooroopilly. It too was damaged with the centre span being washed away. Its damage is recorded along with flooding in Kangaroo Point and the Norman Creek area in the South Bank Suburbs Album