6 December 2009

Woden Valley Flood Memorial

| Moggie8
Join the conversation

I am the sister of one of the flood victims. There is a memorial due to be erected to the 7 flood victims on 26 jan 2010. Our family was lead to believe that an information sign would be included but at a meeting on fri Dec 4 with Jon Stanhope’s representatives this was not going to be included due to a lack of funding. We then offered to pay and were then informed it was a matter of liability. I am upset at the late notice and feel it is an attempt to tie our hands. None of us are interested in compensation, only that a true and historical record be given to members of the public and to provide closure to my family. I have only just found this site. Any comments or community support would be appreciated.

[Ed] Previously discussed here

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
sisterofstudents11:06 pm 09 Jan 10

Looking for info re this memorial and I came upon these comments.

After all these years the sadness of this event remains part of my family story, so I find it difficult to understand how others can be so clinical and dismissive about whether a memorial is erected/is this tragedy worth remembering/yes, it happened but so long ago etc.

Are the archives so lacking in information that vague recollections and anecdotes are considered sufficient to tell the story?

5 of the 7 victims belonged to 1 extended family: 3 children from one family and 2 cousins, all under 20, who were in one car following the car containing both sets of parents along Yarra Glen. The 2nd car stalled, couldn’t be restarted; the occupants got out and were almost immediately washed away by a huge wall of water, in sight of their parents.

Why do I care? These were family friends, 1 victim was my schoolfriend, her younger brother (6 yrs) a friend of one of my brothers, their parents close friends of ours. I was 16 when this happened. We lived in Curtin, they in Lyons. I will never forget the sound of the rain and noise of cars whooshing along the roads around the suburb that night. My dad was one of many from our community (Holy Trinity Parish, Curtin, and Marist Brothers, Pearce) who spent days searching for those lost while still putting in long working days.

A triple funeral is an unforgettable and tragic experience; that the dead were 20, 16 and 6 years old made it all the more heart rending. The pall bearers were men like my dad who had spent hours and days searching; it was an experience never to be forgotten.

Yes, a memorial is due. This was an event which could have been avoided. Old-timers who knew the Woden Valley as farm land were aware that the roads as they were then configurated, were built in a long term flood channel. No responsibility was acknowledged by NCDC at the time, but it is interesting that the road was reconfigured, lifted and a roundabout built, along with massive drains constructed between Yarra Glen and Curtin all the way from Phillip to Cotter Road.

The parents of those 3 children are still living. Every time I see them it feels like my heart could break, yet they remain at peace with life.

Empathy, my friends. Acknowledge the reality which we have not been asked to live with, and acknowledge a tragedy which from which we can all learn.

Pandy said :

Memorials impact on the general public who do not have close emotional connection to the incident. Why should the entire nation be expected to mourn these particular deaths? Why are they different from any other death?

Maybe I’m reading your post wrong, but how does putting a memorial in Canberra affect the entire nation?

It is a pretty big event in Canberra’s history, with more lives lost than in the 2003 bush fires.

I like how the google ad at the bottom of this page is currently a pic of flood waters around a house, linking to http://www.blobel.com/blobel-spill-control-barriers.html

Why do we have a war memorial? Memorials serve a useful purpose, so that people don’t forget the horror and repeat the mistakes … such as building on flood plains etc.

Looks good cranky – Chemset with a dome head coach screw in each corner of the plaque = tamperproof.

A dynabolt can just have the nut removed and plaque levered up leaving the threaded ends of the dynabolts exposed.

Your idea is more of a permanent solution compared to a dynabolt – partnered with construction adhesive on the back of the plaque and we have a permanent installation

Memorials impact on the general public who do not have close emotional connection to the incident. Why should the entire nation be expected to mourn these particular deaths? Why are they different from any other death?


Discover the benefits of Chemset, by Ramset.

Done properly, jackhammer territory. And wouldn’t THAT alert the natives.

If the government cant be made to see sense, then im with Danman, have something made up by the families, and im sure we could figure out a way of getting it to people capable of getting it put up somewhere in a way thats going to be too hard to remove afterwards. Guerilla memorial plaquing is a bit different to guerilla gardening but im always for community action where required!

Also I agree with Bam Bam, forty years is not that long, how does the period of time change anything? I fail to see how this is relevant and personally I think the people asking why “they *need* a memorial for *closure*” need to take a good hard look at themselves.

Having recently gone through the loss of a close family member myself only a couple of months ago, I know if it had been a public disaster they died in, I would be campaigning for something like this whether it took, 10, 20, 40, or 80 years to get done, good on you moggie8, keep up the fight I say.

I see a simple bronze plaque dynabolted and liquid nailed to a concrete structure on site as a tasteful and unobtrusive guerrilla installation.

However, I believe we should give the government the benefit of the doubt for the moment and bide our time to see what is unveiled come January 26th

here is the link to the facebook group should you wish to join.

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster3:40 pm 08 Dec 09

Digga said :

Just a clarification; where are units being built on flood plains?

Between Woden Plaza and the cemetery.

Granny said :

Shame for not letting them have one measly sign!!

Or even a healthy one!

Just a clarification; where are units being built on flood plains?

Shame for not letting them have one measly sign!!

The way I understand it the disaster was partially caused by how the government did the drains, and because of that awful loss of life they do things very differently these days.

It is also part of the history of Canberra and it should not be forgotten anymore than events like fire or flood or cyclone are forgotten in any other Australian town or city.

Again, I don’t see how time elapsed is an reason not to do anything. If it had happened in this decade there’d be a plaque at least. It’s loss of life. I don’t see the difference.

Why do peope have to have closure over raodside memorials 40 years after the fact? Like it is 2 generations hence.

I personally see no objection to erecting a plaque somewhere, thats not exactly a cost or time intensive effort, and disturbs absolutely no-one, its a plaque for cyring out loud. If the families are happy to pay for it themselves, then I see no reason they should be denied, especially if previously told this would be done and at governments cost not their own. I can’t see what the issue could be other than funding, and if thats a non-issue it does seem strange for them to do a 180 on erecting a plaque. Is there more to this we’re missing here??

The Facebook group Danman mentioned may also be happy to help you campaign to get your sign, Moggies. I’m sure at least some of us are capable of writing letters to the editor or whatever we can do to support you. I know Danman was wondering what was happening with the memorial. We are also very keen to see this happen.

I totally agree greenit. I’ve always known it occurred but didn’t know the details. Such an awful tragedy and especially as all the victims were so young (6-20) and 2 sets of siblings!? Is that correct? three kids from the one family and two from another? It’s quite a horribly surreal thought to picture something like that happening along that stretch of road.

Oh well, the cockles of my heart can be even warmer now as I drive past the vomited twisted girder mess or the twirly orange wavy wind distraction knowing the thousands and thousands spent on them was money much better spent.


Never been affected by tragedy? How fortunate you are… 40 years may seem a long time to you, but to the families who lost loved ones and those in the woden community who tried desperately to save lives on that day – it is something they live with every day. And those of us living in Canberra at the time – this was a major los s of life which should not be in vain – I remember the chilling news reports of the situation – how did this happen in planned Canberra?Why a memorial? To remember a tragedy, and perhaps to remind us all, and particularly planning agencies in the future, that building in the flood corridor, w illbe disastrous. I don’t want to make this post political, but I cannot believe that on one hand the ACT Government is finally putting up a memorial, and on the other hand, building on flood corridors throughout the city.

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster7:52 pm 07 Dec 09

Anna Key said :

I mean no disrespect, but why do you need a memorial to be erected to give you “closure” almost 40 years after the event?

But it seems a bit odd that you are even being blocked from funding your own memorial.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to erect a memorial to Canberrans killed in a local flood, especially since a memorial to the sinking of a refugee boat thousands of km away exists in Weston Park.

I’m surprised it’s taken so long, actually.

Indeed an emotive issue, and very personal, but I do note that little Katie Bender has a marker down by the lake.

How about Stanhope sells the Al Grassby statue to Hargreaves, and donates the proceeds to this memorial.

I would just put up a plaque, what are they gong to do about it?

They can’t be that worried about liability. They are now building units on this floodplain afterall.

A matter of ‘liability’. What a cop-out.

Clown Killer7:14 am 07 Dec 09

If Stanhopes representatives told you the reason there couldn’t be a sign was ‘liability’ then they were lying. But then again, they work for Stanhope so lying to people for no other reason than to hurt them would come naturally for these a-holes.

While it is sad that this incident happened, I don’t agree with a memorial being established so long after the event.

Closure is a private headstone in a cemetery: not a publically funded memorial on public land. Where do we draw the line on these ‘roadside’ memorials?

Moggie – perhaps if the memorial consisted of some large poles and was situated at weston park you might have more support from the Stanhope Government.

Could you have your own information sign errected?


plenty of money was forthcoming earlier this year via the facebook group that was set up by a fellow RA reader.

If money is an issue, I can come to the party with the full support of the FB group – and can finaly have the pledges from earlier this year honored.

I mean no disrespect, but why do you need a memorial to be erected to give you “closure” almost 40 years after the event?

But it seems a bit odd that you are even being blocked from funding your own memorial.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.