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21 September 1844 Torrens flood

 21 September 1844 Torrens flood 

On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September 1844 the Torrens flooded causing widespread damage. Colonists watched the angry river eat away the foundations of Shand’s brewery; casks and other utensils were carried to safety but by Sunday afternoon the foundations had been undermined and the building came down with a crash. Part of the bank collapsed too and casks, bottles and brewing equipment floated away on the raging waters. Those watching had to scramble for their lives. Perhaps the river was showing just what it could do in reply to scathing criticism over the years.

The Register, in February 1838, wrote: 

What the River Torrens may be capable of or performing for a week or two of the rainy season beyond the sweeping down to the swamp the summer filth of Adelaide we cannot guess, but the Torrens at other times is not a river at all but merely a chain of fresh water pools. 

The flood in September 1844 saw bridges at Hahndorf and near Onkaparinga swept away, market gardens, other gardens and a dairy further downstream flooded and the city bridges damaged. Further floods in 1847 also damaged bridges and the first dam built was washed away in 1867. It was not until the weir was built in 1881 that there was some control over the river.  

South Australian Register, 25 September 1844, p.4.

The Mail 30 January 1937, Newspaper Cuttings Book Volume 2, p.56.

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