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Our Town - Part Six

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

1864, 1893, 1897.

It had been 77 years since Brisbane's last flood, but in 1974 the old foe returned.

Images like this would become depressingly familiar 37 years later.
Cyclone Wanda and three weeks of rain had filled Brisbane's waterways and catchments to their limit, and then for a 36 hour period beginning January 25th, 1974, 642mm of rain assaulted the city. That's two feet of water coming from above, in a day and a half.

A lake of 200 square kilometres was formed around the Brisbane River.

14 people died, 6700 homes were flooded and $200 million in damage was caused by the disaster. The Wivenhoe Dam was built as a direct result of this one event.

Brisbane moved on however, to shine during the 1982 Commonwealth Games. 45 countries and nearly 1600 athletes participated in an event which brought the city and state to the forefront of world attention, if only for ten days.

Much of the infrastructure for Expo '88 is still there today.
That attention was refocused in 1988 when Brisbane hosted Expo '88. Expo was a World's Fair which brought 15.7 million visitors to the city, who contributed $175 million dollars in ticket sales alone.

It spurred a redevelopment in Brisbane's Southbank area (the area on the other side of the river from the CBD), a process which continues today.

The area was made into a lush parklands, with exotic buildings and walkways under sails through beautiful tropical greenery.

Brisbane had grown and from 1974 to 1988, had willingly or unwillingly, been placed in the world's gaze three times.

In 1990 1.3 million people looked to a new decade.
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