Wild weather continues with flood warnings for Queensland’s south-east and northern NSW | Australia weather

Heavy rain across south-east Queensland and north of New South Wales has prompted flash flooding warnings as authorities answer hundreds of calls for help and warn of more bad weather to come.

Some areas in the Gold Coast and northern NSW border recorded more than 350mm of rain since Saturday with warnings there was more to come.

Streets in Coffs Harbour and Tumbulgum flooded.

Four people were rescued from floodwaters in NSW overnight and about 20 caravaners were moved to higher ground.

NSW State Emergency Service received 700 calls for assistance.

Authorities said more heavy rain, damaging winds and king tides were likely from Fraser Island to Port Macquarie throughout Sunday.

Motorists were being warned to stay off the roads and not to attempt to drive into any floodwaters.

The Bureau of Meteorology also issued a flood warning for south-east Queensland, with inundation possible in coastal and low-lying areas near the Brisbane River.

A red flag and a no swimming sign are seen at Southport beach on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
A red flag and a no swimming sign are seen on the beach at Southport on the Gold Coast on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

In NSW flooding was likely in the Northern Rivers and mid-north coast areas, with further heavy rainfall up to 100 to 200mm expected.

“This is a dynamic weather system and you should always expect the unexpected,” BoM hydrologist Justin Robertson told reporters.

Gale wind warnings were forecast for the Byron coast and strong wind warnings were in place for the Coffs and Macquarie coast. The gale warnings were forecast to last into Monday.

The BoM said that while heavy rainfall in the Tweed Valley and Queensland border may ease on Sunday during the day, it was expected to become severe again on Sunday evening and into Monday morning.

“We are really appealing to residents in the mid-north coast and Northern Rivers to stay vigilant, monitor your local conditions and local forecasts and stay out of floodwaters,” NSW SES assistant commissioner Dean Storey told reporters.

Rough seas and wild surf were forecast north from Ballina, with waves of more than five metres tipped from early Monday.

All Gold Coast beaches were closed along with the majority of Sunshine Coast beaches.

“The combination of damaging surf and abnormally high tides may lead to significant beach erosion north from about Ballina,” the BoM warns.

Jesse Brough of Helensvale
Jesse Brough loads sandbags into his ute on the Gold Coast on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

Upper Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland recorded 475mm of rain overnight and Couchy Creek, near the Queensland and NSW border, received 365mm of rain since 9am on Saturday, with Numinbah recording 348mm and Chillingham 306mm.

Flood warnings were issued for the Tweed, Bellinger Brunswick Rivers and Marshalls Creek.

They were also in place for Western Australia’s De Grey River catchment after a gusty tropical low dumped heavy rain from the Pilbara to the border with South Australia.

The weather system crossed the coast near Port Hedland on Friday and it started bucketing down as the weather system moved south-east towards the Goldfields.

Warnings were also been issued for the town of Warburton, near the SA border, the Sandy Desert and the Salt Lakes District rivers.

In Queensland, the heavy rain helped firefighters gain the upper hand against a bushfire that has destroyed almost half of world heritage-listed Fraser Island.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday the blaze was now contained and it was handing management back to the Parks and Wildlife Service.

“But our crews will remain on the ground patrolling to ensure the community remain safe,” a spokesman said via Facebook on Sunday.

The fire destroyed more than 80,000 hectares of vegetation since it was sparked by an illegal campfire on 14 October.

Water bombers dumped almost three million litres of water and fire-retardant gel on the blaze during the nine-week battle.

But loose soil on the world’s largest sand island caused the liquid to drain away quickly in the inaccessible, bush-covered dunes where the fire burned on multiple fronts.

One front was near the Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west side of the island, causing guests and staff to be evacuated.

On the eastern side of the island, the fire came dangerously close to properties in Happy Valley and Cathedrals but was beaten back.

QFES took over management of the fire from the national park’s ranger service early in December.

It immediately ordered tourists to stay away from the island, closing access to all people except residents and essential workers.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has ordered a review of the Department of Environment and QFES emergency response to the blaze.

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