Police and SES have spent most the week searching for a 44-year-old Cairns man who went missing after he tried to swim the flooded Dawson River on Monday night.
Police and SES have spent most the week searching for a 44-year-old Cairns man who went missing after he tried to swim the flooded Dawson River on Monday night. Narelle Schnitzerling

Dawson River bridge is flooded

WHEN the Dawson River at Baralaba is in full flow, boat driver Laurie Parker helps people continue their daily lives.

With the Baralaba-Woorabinda Road bridge currently under water, Laurie’s five-metre dinghy is the ferry service that helps children get to school and other residents get to work and do shopping.

And if, as many locals expect, the bridge is flooded for another week, he will be the point of call to get to the other side between the hours of 6am and 5.30pm.

It is this submerged bridge which some locals question may have contributed to the tragedy involving a 43-year old Cairns man who went missing while trying to swim back to town on Monday evening.

Police divers began scanning the river yesterday afternoon and at 4.30pm were unable to find anything.

Sergeant Jeff Barnett of Gladstone Water Police said preliminary searches of the river using a side scan sonar left them confident of a successful result.

He said more divers would arrive today from Brisbane.

Store owners Manda Hamilton and Penny Bromley said the road, which passes alongside the Neville Hewitt Weir, sat at 4.2m under more than three metres of water.

They were expecting the road to be cut until at least next week, but the latest flooding came just four months after the road was cut for more than six weeks during the February floods.

Mrs Bromley said the Baralaba-Woorabinda Road was frequented by livestock, grain trucks and a school bus, which were unable to get through.

“Half the school population lives on the other side and there’s a lot of people who live here who travel between Woorabinda and Baralaba,” she said.

“I think the school attendance would be down.”

One worker at the Baralaba Coal Mine, who asked not to be named, was at the Baralaba Hotel on Tuesday unable to get to work.

“It affects everyone as there’s no money coming into the town,” the worker said.

Locals say they would like to see the culvert raised and a bridge installed across the anabranch to allow access to the mine.



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