Floods leave communities to rebuild, from Brisbane to Byron

WORDS: Kylie Mitchell-Smith, @travellingsenorita PHOTOGRAPHY Hollie Mariconte - @holliemaricontephotography

Flood-affected communities rallied to give each other the support they needed in the wake of the devastating February floods And they’re not done yet.

LIVING between Brisbane and Byron Bay is a dream, a dream that felt more like a nightmare as the last days of February 2022 unfolded and the rain came plummeting down.

Relentless rain that has inflicted damage on almost everything in its wake, fast-moving from the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane was in the eye of the storm and a low-pressure cell hung heavily over the city.

The Gold Coast and Northern Rivers watched on with anticipation as the future unfolded in front of their eyes. Battening down the hatches at lightning speed, the inevitable cell began to wreak havoc south across the border.

Just days before we had driven from Brisbane to Sydney, excited to be part of an International Tourism Conference, leaving our car and storage safely in a basement. Or so we thought.

Now holed up in a friend’s apartment in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, we come up for air, to pen some thoughts about our beloved Northern Rivers. Among the lucky ones stranded in Sydney, high and dry, we stop to think. Are we in a slow flood as some of the city’s roofs and roads start to crack?

Our energy is firmly north. Feeling helpless, we connect with the trusted independent body Destination Tweed, which has been around for 30 years, representing the local industry of farmers, producers, chefs … the people.

As communities lose faith with all forms of government, it becomes apparent that this tragedy is powered by the people, people literally risking their own lives to save each other and their communities.

Not a border in-sight, the neighbouring Gold Coast becomes the epicentre for supplies, volunteers and scheduling jet skis and boats in and out of Tweed Heads.

Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and anyone who has access to a watercraft ship supplies up the river to Murwillumbah, checking in on stranded folk along the way. The awesome crew at the Corner Stone precinct in Currumbin threw everything at it, not stopping for days. (The army finally arrived and set up HQ there, knowing the community intel is everything.)

Stories of boats flying down the river, narrowly missing bridges to be spared in an ancient rainforest, make us stop and think mother nature is in charge and her messaging is strong.

For folk in the Northern Rivers, the 2011 and more recent 2017 floods are etched in their memories. They were poised to do it all again but this was different, as they watched the unwavering carnage unfold on the streets.

Thousands of homes have been lost, people are still missing and communities are still stranded. No food, water or communication in or out. The whole of the region lost reception for days when the tower was submerged and the battery ran out.

No internet means no cash, no road access means no food. Things went from bad to worse. As we round the second week there are threats of more storms, hail and flash flooding. The region is fatigued but resilient. Community pages like Kingscliff Happenings continue to provide on-the-spot information for who, what, where and how you can help.

Go Fund Me pages are set up for everything imaginable, from animal welfare to indigenous groups to agri-tourism. There is a sense the region will never be the same, but through adversity comes great change. They are committed to rebuilding.

A more sustainable community will emerge with a greater respect for the land they live on and the community they connect with, their tribe- a strong, compassionate and awakened tribe.

Visit and for a full list of funding avenues and information.

Email [email protected] to donate to members.