The Kimberley region of Western Australia has been hit by heavy rainfall and severe flooding caused by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie, which impacted the area in December 2022 and January 2023. The floods have caused significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, and have left many communities isolated and without access to essential services.
There are several sites that have experienced significant damage and/or have been closed due to the Kimberley region flooding.
The 10-kilometre long Willare Crossing of the Fitzroy River on Great Northern Highway has been severely damaged with some of the road being completely washed away.
The Fitzroy River Bridge was significantly damaged along with 500 metres of road east of the townsite. The bridge has been scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt in May 2023, with the goal to have the new bridge completed by the end of 2024 in time for the 2024/25 wet season.
According to Main Roads Western Australia, the flooding generated by Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie has stopped access to Aboriginal communities east of Fitzroy River as well as the East Kimberley and Northern Territory.
Overall, the flooding has led to the isolation of communities and significant disruptions to transport.
February 24th 2023 the Great Northern Highway Willare Crossing was re-opened to all vehicles during daylight hours 9am-6pm, until further notice. Visit Main Roads WA for updates on any closures/risks.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has issued warnings to residents in affected areas to take precautions and prepare for potential flooding. The DFES have advised people to stay away from floodwaters and not to drive through them, as the water can be deeper and more dangerous than it appears.
Residents are also advised to stay away from power supplies within flooded areas and to consider all power supplies as live (to report an issue call Horizon: 13 23 51).
In response to the floods, there are several organisations providing support to the community.
In addition, Main Roads Western Australia has deployed staff and resources to the region to assist with road closures, damage assessments, and repairs.
There are also several flood help centres within the Kimberley region (Fitzroy Crossing, Broome & Derby) who are offering support to locals and visitors.
The Minister has approved the freight subsidy scheme proposed by the KDC and EKCCI. Freight subsidies will reduce costs for Kimberley businesses impacted by the recent floods in order to help the region’s economy to recover. Businesses are encouraged to apply online to receive benefits (apply here).
“The viability of local businesses and industries is critical to the region’s ability to recover quickly from the floods.”
Mr. Stephen Dawson, WA Emergency Services Minister.
Life threatening situation: 000
Disaster Response Hotline: 1800 032 965
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Support: 13YARN (13 92 76)
Local police (non-emergency): 131 444
Kimberley Mental Health Support
Fitzroy Crossing: 91661700
Derby: 9193 3605
Rurallink After Hours: 1800 552 002
Healthdirect: 1800 022 222
To stay updated on the latest news regarding the Kimberely floods, join the Kimberely Floods Facebook Community page here, read the information provided by the DFES here and you can also read the latest media releases provided by the Government of WA.
This has been a difficult time for the Kimberley region. However, amidst the difficulties, the region has witnessed an outpouring of support from emergency management partners, volunteers, and the community. This has served as a silver lining to an otherwise tough situation. As the Kimberley region is still in the midst of the wet season, it is important to bear in mind that floods can happen at any time, underscoring the need for continued preparedness and vigilance.