‘Moat’ saves homestead as cyclone roars

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The homestead-saving levy bank.
Camera IconThe homestead-saving levy bank. Credit: Arthur Hodder

The quick thinking of a Pilbara cattle station caretaker saved an historic homestead from flooding as cyclone Veronica tore through.

As floodwaters started to rise last Monday, Boodarie station caretaker Arthur Hodder realised he would have to evacuate the station, 15km south-east of Port Hedland.

He quickly jumped on a digger and built what most station owners can only dream of - a moat - around the homestead.

As the Turner River later overflowed, water gushed across Boodarie and “washed all of the fences away”.

While the wasn’t quite a moat fit for a princess in a castle, the metre-high levy bank did the job.

When it was safe, Mr Hodder returned to find the 500m buffer zone had protected the homestead and stopped it from flooding.

Quietly chuffed with his handiwork, Mr Hodder said he believed it was the only place on the 188,000 acre property not underwater at some point during the cyclonic event.

“I think the homestead would have been in trouble without the levy bank,” he said.

“A friend gave us the digger a few weeks ago, and said ‘you might make use of it’, and in my head, I thanked him for that.”

The flooded shearing sheds at Boodarie station.
Camera IconThe flooded shearing sheds at Boodarie station. Credit: Arthur Hodder

Mr Hodder said he hadn’t seen any cattle killed by floodwaters at the station, 15km south west of Port Hedland.

But a handful of his 200-strong sheep flock had died near some washed out fencing, and some had gathered up on islands created by the voluminous rainfall.

Mr Hodder runs about 500 acres of the property, where he looks after and shears his 200 sheep.

He is the caretaker for the rest of the station, which is owned by BHP and leased by the nearby Munda station to run cattle.

Mr Hodder said the rainfall left his shearer’s quarters about a metre and a half under water, but the water had now receded.

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