The 2011 flood that nearly wiped out the remote East Kimberley township of Warmun has been commemorated in a beautiful limited-edition book that has now been made available free to everyone online
'Warrambany of Warrmarn’ was commissioned by the Department of Housing and the Kimberley Development Commission. A limited-edition run was printed earlier this year and copies distributed to community members, elders, agencies, taskforce members, Government ministers departmental executives and others.
Click on the above image to view the online book
On 13 March, 2011, the remote East Kimberley town of Warmun was devastated by a flood—warrambany in the language of the local Gija people. In the thick of the annual Big Wet, the waters of Turkey Creek rose swiftly to divide the town and eventually reach a height beyond any event in living memory.
Steve Parry, General Manager of Service Delivery, said‘Warrambany of Warrmarn’ was a fine account of the remarkable events surrounding the destruction and rebuilding of the town.
“The Department has every reason to be proud of its achievements in the mammoth task of rebuilding Warmun in record time,” Steve said.
“It’s fantastic that this publication can been made available to a much wider audience thanks to digital technology.”
The raging torrent that tore through Warmun, engulfed everything in its path including homes and community buildings. Helicopters from Broome and Darwin spent two days after the flood air-lifting 275 residents to emergency shelter.
Fortunately no lives were lost in the flood but 76 homes were destroyed along with a large percentage of infrastructure, vehicles and household goods. Also significantly damaged was the community’s much-loved arts centre and around 300 works by local Aboriginal artists.
The Department of Housing played a pivotal role in the reconstruction and reestablishment of the town, which was completed in just 15 months.
The one-in-a-hundred-year event set in in train a remarkable rebuilding program undertaken in record time to get the people of Warmun back to country and into their homes. Deputy Premier Kim Hames MLA undertook an aerial inspection of the town and met with evacuated residents, after which WA Cabinet moved swiftly to approve formation of the Warmun Re-establishment Taskforce, with representatives from the community and local, state and federal agencies.
Great Northern Higway in the wet season
The Taskforce comprised representatives from the Kimberley Development Commission and Department of Housing as well as four other government departments and the Shires of Halls Creek and Wyndham-East Kimberley.
With a mammoth task ahead of them the Taskforce hit the ground running and the story of their success in restoring the township is told in words and remarkable pictures in ‘Warrambany of Warrmarn’, which has now been made available for free in a digital format.
While the psychological scars remain and the event has had a profound effect, the town of Warmun is once again a thriving and happy community now resettled into a new, hopeful and much safer environment, thanks to the Department of Housing and the Taskforce.
‘Warrambany of Warrmarn’ tells a beautifully illustrated tale of the event, the devastation, the rush to rebuild and the return to country. Bookended by spectacular Kimberley landscapes are poignant and sometimes humorous pictures of family pets riding out the flood on rooftops, a freezer resting in the branches of a tree, the devastated and much loved arts centre and children’s and artists’ illustrations of the experience.
A copy of the ‘Warrambany of Warrmarn’ book can be viewed and downloaded here