Townsville is a city proud of its abilities to handle extremes. Located in Australia’s dry tropics, Townsville depends on seasonal monsoons (often including cyclones) to maintain its water supply. The way Townsville responds to major weather events has become part of its collective identity. In Townsville, however, community acceptance of recurrent but unpredictable major weather events has not led to the development of a sustainable flood memory. Two recent floods, in 1998 and 2019, demonstrate that although Townsville often experiences heavy rains, it has failed to foster a communal memory and understanding of how to live with flooding.

This is an abstract for an article appearing in the online journal Arcadia. To read the full text of this article, click here.

A flooded Townsville street in 2019 (Photo: Rohan Lloyd, 2019). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Related: Terms of Disaster collection


Rohan Lloyd is a historian from Townsville, Australia. His research has primarily focused on the history of the Great Barrier Reef and his interests extend to Australian environmental history and histories of environmentalism. Rohan is currently an adjunct lecturer at James Cook University and is a teacher at a local high school.


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The Teach311 + COVID-19 Collective began in 2011 as a joint project of the Forum for the History of Science in Asia and the Society for the History of Technology Asia Network and is currently expanded in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science(Artifacts, Action, Knowledge) and Nanyang Technological University-Singapore.

Remembering the Night of Noah: Flood Memory and Townsville’s Floods of 1998 and 2019 :: Rohan Lloyd (Australia)
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