Southwest Queensland Floods 2000

Map of Australia highlighting South-West Queensland

Map of Australia highlighting
South-West Queensland
© Geoscience Australia

The satellite images below show the dramatic effect on the land of recent heavy rain, causing floodwaters to inundate south-west Queensland. This area is known as the Channel Country and has an extensive braided river system which includes the Georgina River, the Diamantina River and Cooper Creek. Excess water from this area generally feeds into the Lake Eyre system which is a vast drainage basin in Australia's arid interior. Flooding of the magnitude visible on the satellite images can cause Lake Eyre to fill up - something which occurs very rarely.

Lake Eyre

Landsat 7, 1 January 2000 Lake Eyre

Landsat 7, 1 January 2000
Lake Eyre
© Geoscience Australia

Landsat 7, 6 April 2000 Lake Eyre

Landsat 7, 6 April 2000
Lake Eyre
© Geoscience Australia

These two images show the changes which have occured to Lake Eyre between 1 January and 6 April 2000. Both images were produced by joining together two satellite images acquired by the Landsat 7 satellite - 705 kilometres away in space.

On the left is Lake Eyre as a dry salt lake on 1 January.

The same scene on the right shows Lake Eyre on 6 April with water flooding onto the dry salt pan.

Birdsville - Diamantina and Georgina Rivers

Landsat 7, 27 February 2000 Diamantina and Georgina Rivers

Landsat 7, 27 February 2000
Diamantina and Georgina Rivers
© Geoscience Australia

This mosaic image was produced by joining together three satellite images which were acquired on 27 February 2000 by the Landsat 7 satellite - 705 kilometres away in space. It covers an area approximately 180 kilometers across and 500 kilometres long and takes in the small outback towns of Boulia, Bedourie, Betoota and Birdsville.

Georgina River is on the left and the Diamantina River on the right.

There are 14 cattle stations in the Birdsville shire, each averaging 6 860 square kilometres in area. The Birdsville shire covers 95 000 square kilometres and is the second largest shire in Queensland.

Before and during the floods

In the two Landsat 7 satellite images below, you can see the difference in the area stretching from Bedourie in the top left hand area down to Birdsville at the bottom centre of the image. The image on the left was acquired on 19 August 1999 and shows the landforms in the dry season. The image on the right was acquired on 27 February 2000 and shows the same area at the peak of the floods.

The image on the left shows the area north of Birdsville prior to the flooding and the image on the right shows the area during the flood. The prior image was acquired in August 1999 and the other, acquired on 27 February 2000, has a lot of green and blue areas which indicate the floodwaters.

Landsat 7, 19 August 1999 Bedourie to Birdsville landforms in the dry season

Landsat 7, 19 August 1999
Bedourie to Birdsville landforms in the dry season
© Geoscience Australia

Landsat 7, 27 February 2000 Bedourie to Birdsville landforms at the peak of the floods

Landsat 7, 27 February 2000
Bedourie to Birdsville landforms at the peak of the floods
© Geoscience Australia

Longreach - Thomson River

Landsat 7, 29 February 2000 Longreach - Thomson River

Landsat 7, 29 February 2000
Longreach - Thomson River
© Geoscience Australia

This mosaic image was produced by joining together four satellite images which were acquired on 29 February 2000 by the Landsat 7 satellite - 705 kilometres away in space.

It covers an area approximately 180 kilometres across and 700 kilometres long and takes in the small outback towns of Longreach, Stonehenge, Jundah and Windorah.

Dominating this image is the Thomson River which rose to a peak of 7.85 metres at Jundah on 1 March 2000, the day after these images were acquired. Many residents have had to move their belongings to higher ground, outlying properties remain isolated, and there are reports of huge stock losses.

Cooper Creek begins just near the town of Stonehenge and the images below show the enormous volume of water in this creek on 1 March 2000.

Cooper Creek

SPOT 2, 1 March 2000, Cooper Creek

SPOT 2, 1 March 2000, Cooper Creek
© CNES 2000

This mosaic consists of three images acquired on 1 March 2000 from the SPOT 2 satellite at Geoscience Australia's Data Acquisition Facility in Alice Springs.

It presents a graphic picture of water which has overflowed Cooper Creek, making it about 60 kilometres wide at its widest point. Floodwaters from here flow down to Lake Eyre, Australia's largest inland lake, and attract hundreds of thousands of water birds to outback Australia.

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 30, 2012