Christine Lachlan Arrowsmith and Kathy Russell from the Coast and Environment Group recently undertook a site visit to Jigalong Community in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The community is best known as the home of Molly Craig, whose 1600 kilometre journey back to Jigalong along the rabbit proof fence was immortalised in the film “Rabbit-Proof Fence”. The community is prone to flooding, and Water Technology was engaged by the Western Australia Department of Planning to undertake a Flood Risk Assessment and Floodplain Management Strategy for the community.
The site visit included a day trip from Newman, a mining town in the Pilbara, and required a two-hour drive each way along dirt roads with a couple of creek fords thrown in for good measure. The community itself was a mix of the ramshackle and the brand new, with some good community facilities, but a noisy diesel power station within 100 metres of houses.
Christine and Kathy, along with representatives from the WA Department of Planning and the Shire of East Pilbara, met with Jigalong Community Inc. representatives and were prepped on local conditions, flooding issues and cultural sensitivity issues such as “no go” areas. The WT team then surveyed key site features and took photos of key infrastructure and known flood-prone areas. This information will feed into hydraulic modelling of the community, and the development of a Floodplain Management Strategy.
The outcomes of this study will assist the WA Department of Planning to improve safety and minimise the loss and disruption to the community in future flood events, and to plan for appropriate future development.