Buyer’s Agent Specialising in Brisbane



1893 Brisbane Flood

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Dorothea McKellar the great Australian poet knew what she was writing about when she penned her amazing poem ‘My Country’.

The following verse from this iconic poem has always resonated with me…

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

Brisbane as ‘The River City’ has always had a turbulent relationship with floods as it’s basically a sub tropical city built on a gigantic river plain.

Brisbane flood AI
Brisbane 2011 floods with a city view and flooded streets – source Midjourney


Brisbane has lived through some notable years for flood events, including 2022 and 2011 and 1974 in recent memory, though the most memorable of all happened in 1893.

1893 Brisbane Flood: Known as the “Black February” floods, 1893 saw a series of three major flood peaks in Brisbane in February, with the highest peak recorded at around 8.35 meters at the city gauge. These floods caused severe damage at a time when the city was much less prepared for such events. The lack of modern infrastructure and early warning systems at the time made recovery efforts particularly challenging.

The photos of the 1893 flood are striking. .

1893 Brisbane Flood
1893 Brisbane Flood, Queen Street Mall – source – State Library QLD


After 1974 to deal with future flood catastrophes the massive Wivenhoe dam, which is over 100 square km in size, was constructed in 1984. This was supposed to end all future flood events of discomforting size, and was thought to be the case until 2011 rolled around and we were experiencing another bursting of the Brisbane river. Not to the scale of 1893 but still a major issue.

What does this means when comes to buying real estate?

The short summary is that you should avoid all water…. Unless it’s a feature view of what you are buying.

The local councils in QLD have excellent resources when it comes to flood mapping, all of the councils we buy in have detailed flooding maps showing both flood maps and likelihood of flooding in percentage terms.

Overland flow and flood mapping
Watch out for the flood and overland flow lines


There are three typical issues to watch with water.

1) Riverine flooding
2) Overland flow
3) Lay of the land concerns

Riverine Flooding: Riverine flooding in Brisbane occurs when prolonged rainfall over the Brisbane River catchment leads to the river exceeding its capacity, causing water to spill over its banks. This type of flooding can affect large areas and last for several days, often impacting homes, businesses, and infrastructure located near the river. Historical events, such as the floods in 1974 and 2011, exemplify the devastating potential of riverine flooding in Brisbane.

Overland Flow: Overland flow refers to the movement of water across the land surface when the ground is saturated, or when rain falls too quickly for it to infiltrate or be captured by drainage systems. In Brisbane, this can lead to rapid flooding of streets and properties, especially in urban areas where impermeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt prevent water absorption. Overland flow is usually more localized than riverine flooding but can still cause significant damage.

Lay of the Land Concerns: The topography or “lay of the land” in Brisbane significantly influences flooding, especially in areas with steep slopes or uneven terrain. Water runs faster and accumulates more quickly in lower-lying areas, leading to flash flooding. This is particularly concerning in some suburbs where natural waterways have been modified or built over, reducing the land’s ability to naturally manage sudden heavy rainfall. Lay of the land concerns are something that an experienced property buyer can spot at an inspection but may not be obvious otherwise.

Property flooding

Property research for flood levels
A sample checklist from our research showing flood mapping


Issues with water are chronic and expensive to remedy, if possible at all. For this reason we are discarding anything with a flood risk, unless there is a very clear exception to this rule.

Brisbane locals tend to underestimate the risk with flooding in my experience, whilst this is understandable for properties with limited availability such as riverfront houses, it’s less understandable for your standard dwelling.

Brisbane is a beautiful city, and our summer storms can also be a welcome relief to the heat of the season, however understanding and respecting the incredible forces of nature are an important part of investing well.


About the author

Andrew Allen

Andrew Allen

Founder and Managing Director of Allen Real Estate, Andrew Allen, grew up in Brisbane and watched its transformation from large country town to vibrant, in-demand city.


We worked with Micah. He was extremely
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Robin, Sunshine Coast


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