Heavy rains have stranded people around the Northern Territory, with one man walking 40 kilometres for help after his car and pregnant passenger were isolated by floodwaters.
Elsewhere, a group of tourists and rangers are facing the prospect of Christmas stuck at a Central Australian tourist spot after the access road was cut by floods.
NT Police said the woman, who is 38 weeks’ pregnant, was taken by helicopter from the remote community of Timber Creek because it was feared she would be stranded by floodwaters when going into labour over the holiday period.
A patrol car was flagged down by the man who had walked about 40 kilometres from where his vehicle had become stranded, with children and the pregnant woman as passengers.
“He had left the party to find help after their car had become bogged and was able to flag down a police vehicle on the Victoria Highway,” Superintendent Stephen Heyworth said.
“Although the party had plenty of water, food was going to be an issue.”
The CareFlight rescue helicopter made the 90-minute flight to the small community, about 600km south of Darwin by road and 350km by air, after it became clear the town’s airstrip was likely to be out of service for the rest of the wet season.
In a statement CareFlight said the helicopter had “dodged thunderstorms on the way but landed safely in the usually dry and dusty township, now awash with greenery and mud, where the woman was being cared for at the local clinic”.
“The woman was then flown to Katherine, almost an hour and 240km to the north-east, to see out her pregnancy at the local base hospital.”
Another helicopter was used to transport the remaining people to Timber Creek.
“Although this incident has ended safely we urge travellers in the region to exercise extreme caution at this time,” Superintendent Heyworth said, adding that people should not attempt to cross a flooded roadway.
Wet Christmas fears for stranded group
Meanwhile, rangers and tourists are facing the prospect of being stuck out bush for Christmas, after the roads were cut at Ormiston Gorge in the Northern Territory’s West MacDonnell National Park.
About 190 millimetres of rain has fallen into the creek since Monday morning, inundating the entrance to the gorge.
Ranger Shelly Inglis said water levels were still quite high, leaving those flooded in at the ranger station feeling nervous.
“With Christmas looming so close, everyone’s feeling a bit nervous and looking at what’s in their freezer, but we’re hoping we’ll be out by then but just see what happens in the next few days,” she said.
Ms Inglis said she expected they would be stranded for several days.
“It’s still running quite brown and there was quite a few logs coming through because it’s been the first flush through in a while, but it’s still quite high and it’s sort of above the river bank levels and flowing quite fast,” she said.
In another incident, police have used a computer tablet to communicate with a tourist after the car they were driving was swept away in floodwaters.
Senior Sergeant Michael Potts said a four-wheel drive had washed off the road about 15 kilometres west of Santa Teresa, near Alice Springs.
“On arrival, police observed the vehicle being washed downstream about 30 metres with the level of the creek about one metre over the road,” he said.
“The driver of the vehicle was from overseas and did not speak English well, so communication was conducted with the translation application on the police iPad.
“This is a timely reminder to stay out of floodwaters this wet season. Don’t enter floodwaters — even water 30 centimetres deep could sweep you off your feet,” Senior Sergeant Potts said.