Ethan's muddy birthday dash

Winton flooding doesn't stop Ethan Cox from celebrating 9th birthday

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Ethan Cox, Warrnambool Station, testing out his new scooter beside the flooded Western River on Winton's western outskirts. The scooter was a birthday present that he waded through mud and water to get to. Picture - John Elliott.

Ethan Cox, Warrnambool Station, testing out his new scooter beside the flooded Western River on Winton's western outskirts. The scooter was a birthday present that he waded through mud and water to get to. Picture - John Elliott.

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Over 200mm of rain, thigh-high floodwater and a muddy stretch of ground weren't enough to deter Winton's Ethan Cox from travelling the 70km that separated him from his birthday presents in town on Tuesday.

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Over 200mm of rain, thigh-high floodwater and a muddy stretch of ground weren't enough to deter Winton's Ethan Cox from travelling the 70km that separated him from his birthday presents in town on Tuesday.

The family property Warrnambool, south of town on the Opalton Road, was one of the beneficiaries of the rain cell that dumped some big falls of rain in the region on Australia Day and the day after.

Ethan's mother Carly Cox recalled that with creeks predicted to rise fast, they had to make a quick decision about whether to dash to town.

"I told Ethan it was a choice between staying home and riding a motorbike with his dad or going to town where all his birthday presents were," she said. "It was a tough choice but the presents won - it's important for nine-year-olds to have presents."

Ms Cox said they were lucky they'd left when they did as the water was rising fast across their floodplain, and another 130mm fell at the property that evening.

Related: Big rain north of Hughenden

Although Winton experienced a 48 hour period being cut off completely by road, from Monday to Wednesday morning, Ms Cox said there were sections of the shire that hadn't had a lot of rain.

"It's been patchy," she said.

"At our house we've had 13 inches (325mm) for January and the majority of that in two days, but down the Weona end, it's five inches (125mm).

"If you're under it you're lucky."

Weona's Paula McKerrow said while they had received a lot less rain than neighbours at the house, they felt some of their paddocks would have received a good drenching.

"We say, ignore the numbers - what matters is follow-up in a couple of weeks.

"We were on the edge of the big rain last year so we were looking for it, but we'll be OK."

Between dirt detours on the roads to Hughenden and Longreach that were closed by rain, flooded creeks and muddy conditions, all roads to Winton were closed between Monday and Wednesday mornings.

Winton road conditions - 9.30am, January 29, 2020

A view of a storm approaching Winton from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum. Picture - Trish Sloan.

A view of a storm approaching Winton from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum. Picture - Trish Sloan.

Strathfillan, a property to the north of town, had 150mm while Winton itself measured 117mm in the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday, and the Western River was once again encircling the western perimeter of the town.

Shire mayor Gavin Baskett said despite the temporary isolation, everyone was loving being able to enjoy the rain.

"There was a bit of a rush on the staples - milk and potatoes - but we're not wanting for anything, just enjoying the conditions," he said. "To the west there hasn't been a lot of rain but the rest has had between six and 17 inches (150-425mm)."

Among the services disrupted were the Bus Queensland service between Brisbane and Mount Isa.

Further down the road at Longreach a number of road trains were waiting for the Landsborough Highway to reopen, including K and S Transport driver Aubrey Slade, who had the week's supplies for the Mount Isa McDonalds outlet on board his refrigerated truck.

Mr Slade said he'd been caught at Julia Creek a few years ago but luckily he knew people in Longreach he could visit while he was waiting for conditions to dry out.

"If we can't get through, a truck will come up from Adelaide for the Mount Isa Maccas," he said.

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