Day the floods took the pub

Tom Gray with the old Dubbo Liberal report of the 1955 floods. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Tom Gray with the old Dubbo Liberal report of the 1955 floods. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

When the 1955 flood struck Dubbo, Tom Gray was an 11-year-old living in the family-run hotel.

The Macquarie View Hotel was located on the corner of Macquarie Street and Talbragar Street, opposite where Dubbo Regional Library is now located.

Tomorrow will mark 55 years since Dubbo went under, a result of days of constant rain and the flooding of both the Talbragar and Macquarie rivers.

As the anniversary of the flood looms, Mr Gray yesterday recalled the time when he and his uncle Frank Gray would swim up Talbragar Street in order to get supplies.

“Dubbo used to flood a fair bit in those days and from the pub we could see a normal flood down where Brennan’s Mitre 10 is now,” he said.

“But then water starting coming through gutters and it became obvious pretty quickly that this was not your average flood.”

As water levels rose in streets and buildings, Mr Gray and his uncle would try and get furniture and equipment up to the top story of the Macquarie View.

“Inside I would swim around and try to pick up some furniture and get it upstairs,” he said.

“We knew it was coming inside the pub when the kegs in the downstairs cellar were hitting the roof, which was the floor of the pub.

“I would go out on the balcony of the pub upstairs and you could look down Macquarie Street, it was flowing pretty quickly.

“Me and my uncle Frank would swim up Talbragar Street. By the time we got to the Castlereagh Hotel I couldn’t touch the ground anymore.”

Despite 55 years passing since the great flood, the memories remain vivid in the mind of Mr Gray, now best known as a director on the board of the Dubbo RSL Club.

He said it was strange to think such a long period of time had passed.

“It was certainly an experience I will never, ever forget,” he said.

“Like I said earlier, Dubbo used to flood a bit. You could go down and paddle in the bottom end of Macquarie Street and Talbragar Street.

“But this was something else. North Dubbo went under and it was just an event that it can be really hard to put into words.”