A Place Down Under

.... Kate's World

Little Kate

Little Kate
Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
September 13
When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. ~ Author Unknown


Little Kate's Links

Open Calls
Iron Poet Challenges
My Story
Just my Poetry
JANUARY 13, 2011 8:09AM

The Little Tug Who Could - A True Story of Aussie Spirit

Rate: 26 Flag


The strain began to show on Premier Anna Bligh  as she addressed a news conference today on the flood disaster gripping the Australian state of Queensland.  With her voice quavering and a fisted hand gently tapping the open palm of the other, she said, "We are tough. We are Queenslanders. We're the people that they breed tough north of the border. We're the ones they knock down and we get up again!" 

She continued, "This weather may break our hearts but it will not break our will!  In the coming weeks and months, we are going to prove that beyond any doubt!"

The Brisbane River peaked at 4.46 metres around 4:00am this morning and was just over a metre less than predicted.  A very small sigh of relief from those that had been spared was almost audible.  But for many others, their fears had been realised.

Residential areas around the Brisbane River had been inundated with the  muddy waters that had been swept down from the Lockyer Valley and through the city of Ipswich and into the Brisbane River.  More than 30,000 homes and businesses are flooded in the wake of the devastating floods.

The chocolate brown water rose higher in Brisbane's Central Business District and the Entertainment and Arts Precinct of Southbank.

Most of Brisbane is still in darkness tonight.  Power is slowly being returned to some areas but 103,000 homes are still blacked out.

Water is receding but leaves behind a very thick sludge; the top soil washed from the tableland of Toowoomba and the plains of the Lockyer Valley three days ago.

The number of dead has now risen to 15 and 61 people are still missing.  Very grave fears are held for 12 of those missing.

A methodical search began today through debris, flood-ravaged farmhouses and creek beds in the Lockyer Valley where the wall of water wiped out the small town of Grantham.

Grim stories from the survivors are emerging.  One told of a pregnant mother and her two young children who tried to flee the water.  The mother clung tightly to her children but her youngest, a two year old child, was swept from her arms.  

Another told of a family of four who could not escape the rising water in their house and the only thing to do was climb through a manhole and onto the roof.  The two children made it up on the roof and when they looked back they discovered their parents had been swept away.

But amidst all of the devastation and horrific stories, the Aussie spirit shines brightly.

One home owner, upon being shown his submerged home by a film crew, said, "Oh well, we're here for the long haul.  You can replace stuff. You can replace homes. You can't replace lives."

Another said, "... just enjoy the river frontage because you normally pay millions for it!"

A sign on a window says:  "LOST.  3 Gold Fish. Last seen Tuesday."

Aussies ... Queenslanders ... are rallying.  Those who have been fortunate are turning up at evacuation centres with food, clothing, offers of sharing their homes to those in need. Anything. 

The Premier quipped, "If you can operate a broom or a mop, we have a job for you!"

Red Cross and other volunteer organisations are being inundated with offers of help.  Teenagers help with heavy work. Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister, lifts a heavy suitcase and perches it on top of his head whilst helping an elderly gentleman move things out of his garage. Anyone who can, is pitching in and doing what they can to help.

A tug boat operator, Doug Hislop, is  being hailed as a hero tonight.  Early this morning a massive slab of a concrete walkway broke away from the city's popular structure known as the Riverwalk and floated down the Brisbane River. For 16 kilometres (10 miles) it sped down the river, spinning out of control and threatening all in its path.  It was on a collision course with the Gateway Bridge, one of the city's major bridges which spans 260 metres over the river.

Doug Hisplop heard about the missile heading down the river when he was listening to his radio at 4:00am.  Without being asked, Doug quickly jumped onboard his tugboat and caught up with the unwieldy projectile about half a kilometre from the bridge.

Doug and his 40 year old tug, the Mavis, fought against the fast-flowing river, expertly manoeuvering and nudging the 300 tonne mass of concrete.  He moved from end to end, stopped it spinning, managed to keep it straight and ultimately guided it cleanly between the pylons of the bridge.

Once clear of the bridge, other vessels helped Doug nudge the mass onto mud flats near the mouth of the Brisbane River. 

Doug is someone who just got in there and did what he needed to do. 

Doug and his tugboat.  A true story of the little tug who could.

That's the lovely thing about Aussies, they just get in there and give it a go.  When the chips are down, Aussies stand by their mates and are always ready to lend a hand.

This is indeed The Lucky Country.


The Little Tug Who Could

The Little Tug Who Could




 Interview with the Tugboat Skipper:




Words K A Little 2011


Photo Credit:  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/queensland-floods/


Previous Reports on Australian Floods by K A Little: 

Australia Floods:  3rd Largest City - "A Ghost Town"

Inland Tsunami Hits Australia

Australian Floods and Baywatch (Aussie Farmer Style)

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Much love to you, Kate, and all who walk your land. Amazing people. Amazing spirit. Amazing love for each other. And a premier who is not afraid to speak from her heart as she does her best to hold her people and their spirits together.
anna1: Gotta love Aussies! I am glad you do. : )
Ah Kate. The little tug that could says the spirit of Aussieland is alive and doing quite well, thank you.
I am so happy to see you are keeping us updated but I know it has to be hard. Glad to see the trucstop news too. I went over and checed it out too. You are in my thoughts dear. All of you and your countrymen.
Mission: Doug and his little tugboat, Mavis .... a massive river, 3 tonnes of long, long concrete and just this little tugboat ... fighting ... and fighting hard. I think a beautiful picture of true blue Aussie spirit.
Amazing story. It is the spirit of the people that makes a country great.
Mavis and Doug!! Wonderful story full of hope. Thank you.
I keep watching the news and thinking of you and read your posts.
Stay safe Kate.. please stay safe.
Rated with hugs
She reminds me of Churchill
Our state was flooded last year and We are still recovering in many ways. Keep on going with that great Aussie spirit! Lots of empathy coming your way, Kate, and godspeed.
WOW, talk about spirit!
Kate, that tugboat captain and his Mavis are symbolic of the legendary spirit of Aussies. I can't even conceive of a 300 ton mass, much less envision a tiny tugboat stopping its path to destruction. You wrote this account with great love and skill. My thoughts are still with all of you.

watched a video of it and am now crying. People are something else.
Such amazing stories keep coming up holding sunshine to the human spirit. Much love to you Kate, and prayers to all who are surviving these rough times by their will and faith.
My goodness, what a marvelous report, Kate! You choked me up at the end with the tug story. It appears the worst is over.
Thank you for your reporting, Kate. It's so heartwarming to see people coming to gether like this, although heartbreaking at the same time to see so many going through so much devestation. My heart goes out to all Aussies. You just stay up there on that hill, my friend.
Amazing stories--thank you for these.
What a wonderful story and a great country andwonderful people. Stay safe..
This brought tears to my eyes, such bravery, such courage. I wish you all well. You are a strong people and can teach the world much. Thanks for sharing this.
This is heart-helping Kate - knowing what Aussies will do for each other. What a symbol for you all with that little tug that could. I went through flooding 2 years ago and it is not fun - I am sending a lot of love your way!
So glad you added these videos Kate. They help plenty here.
Fay: What people are doing and coping with is just so very amazing indeed.

Zanelle: Doug and Mavis, the Little Tug! I feel like writing a children's story! Thank you for reading.

Linda: Thank you for embracing us and keeping all those affected in your thoughts. Churchill? I had to look it up. Tugboat C.L. Churchill, NY?
So many stories rise to the surface hour by hour. Such courage in the face of such uncertainty.
Some of the best people I know are Aussies, they seem to be able to conquer any obstacle that come their way.
May love and light bless them in the days to come. Sometimes it takes a child or a little tugboat to show the way.
rated with love
Thanks for the new videos Kate!!
Mary Ann: It's going to take a while for sure, Mary Ann. The more I see of reports today ... the damage of mining equipment, the loss of produce, transport infrastructure seriously damaged, etc etc .... yes, it's going to take a while. Thank you for kind thoughts. I appreciate them.

.... next please: Wonderful spirit here but also I know the spirit that is within you and that is something so very amazing indeed.

Lezlie: Seasoned maritime people are saying what the tugboat skipper did was no easy feat and he did it with a small tugboat too (one that is much smaller than those used for cruise ships and the like). I think this little tug is indeed representative of the Aussie spirit! Thank you for your kind words.
h-Julie: Thank you for your continued interest and support. I love that you care so much for us. Thank you my friend ... thank you.

Fusun: Thank you. I think there are going to be many, many more stories to come yet not only of courage and spirit but also of tragedy. I watched a video taken from a camera phone when the flash flood hit a town a few days ago and the wailing of the children in the background, the absolute fear in those poor children, just breaks my heart.

Matt: I hope the worst is over for Queensland and NSW. Reports this morning are coming from our southern states (Victoria and Tasmania) where torrential rain is now falling. As I write, five towns are being evacuated. When will it end?????
Came back to watch the videos. Absolutely breathtaking--the bravery of the tug captain!
Trilogy: Perched on my hill at the moment but thinking about heading off tomorrow to volunteer up north in the clean-up. Thank you again for keeping Aussies in your thoughts and heart.

sophieh: Thank you for continuing to read and for good wishes my friend. I appreciate it so very much.

Lunchlady: There are some pretty amazing people out there. That's for sure! And when I listened to the interview with the tugboat captain, to hear how laid back and understated he is about what he did ... absolutely amazing stuff!
Sheila, there has been so much I've been seeing over the past few days that have reduced me to tears too. Just a while ago, the harrowing video of the raging wall of water hitting a tiny town in the valley a few days ago and the children ... wailing ... so afraid. Each time I think of that ... oh God. What must it have been like for the couple of mums I've heard about whose small children were swept away ... taken out of their arms. Tragic.

Sparking, that little tug and her captain have become a wonderful symbol if Aussie spirit indeed. As I write, I have the television on and that same little tug is on the river again as another piece of walkway has broken off ... but thankfully this time a much, much smaller piece.

Mission, h-Julie, anna1: Thank you so much for coming back again ... for being here. I can't tell you what you just how much I appreciate you 'guys' and what you mean to me. Thank you.
RomanticPoetess: Aussies are just THE best ... but then I could be just a tad bit biased! ; )

Thank you for reading and your continued support. I appreciate it so very much.
Thank you for your continued reports as we sit here praying and worrying. I thought about you as I wrote my entry today. The story of Jordan Rice hooked my heart. Along with the tragedy here, it has been a very sad two weeks there and here. Stay safe Kate, and pace yourself as you help, it will be a long recovery.
You paint a beautiful scene of love in action in the face of devastation.
Great post, LK! All this extreme weather in your homeland is so daunting. These videos and testimony is unbelievable. Scary stuff. You Aussies are tough nuts and inspirational! My Aussie inspiration is Hugh Jackman (Aussie, right?)
pastvoices: Thank you. I read your post and it really hit me ... especially when I got to the bit about Jordan. I first heard his story a couple of days ago and it hit me then too. Such a brave and inspirational little boy. Such a tragedy that he's gone.

heidibeth: Thank you friend. I appreciate this.

Just Cathy: Thanks! We're tough as nails for sure! Well, at least on the outside. Yep, Hugh is an Aussie through and through! Born and bred in Sydney!
Wow. Inspiring and sobering. I hope the missing turn up alive and well. And thanks once again for lifting our spirits with accounts of the Aussie spirit in times of tragedy.
He is a hero! Times like these bring out the good in a lot of people. I always love hearing stories like this. Hope you and yours are safe and well (and dry).
What a story!!! I so admire such strength of character. What stuns me more is how, in the midst of the wreckage, a country's pride in her people runs high enough to outflow the banks of thought.
So rated!
People make their own luck. An admiring toot of the horn to Doug Hislop--and to all Queenslanders!
Alysa: Thank you. And, yes, the number missing has dropped to 20!

Bellwether Vance: He did a wonderful job! Definitely a hero! And, thank you, mine are all safe and sound now!

Poor Woman: Thank you for your lovely words. I'm pretty proud of the Aussie spirit I see displayed over and over when times get tough. 20,000 volunteers turned up today to help with the clean up! Just wonderful!

Pilgrim: Toot! Toot! and THANK YOU!!!
Amazing story! I was glued to NPR one morning listening to news from the flood--couldn't get out of the car to go into work! Prayers are with you all.
Good Daughter: Thank you so much for reading and for good wishes too.
Very nice, Kate. Gripping and well written.
Dorien: Thank you so very much for coming by to read me. I do appreciate it very much.
Only just got back for online non essential stuff on Sunday ... thanks for posting some of the record, ironically my SO and I missed most of it because we were evacuating and sleeping on a friends floor for a couple of weeks.

Yep, our place went under, 4 ft of water above the floor boards (Brisbane, Darra), one hell of mess but better than many others.

Saw the writing on the wall Tuesday and left work to pre pack the car, nearly didn't make it home, had to ford through Milton. Six animals (3 dogs, 3 cats) take up a lot of space :) Still hoped we would be spared but thought best to prepare anyway, just as well we did.

Set the alarm for 2:30am, got up to check and thought it was ok - no rain no flood ... then stepped in the water. Never going to forget that, the eerie silence and that immense dark inland sea of water quietly rising, it seemed to stretch forever over formally dry land, kilometres of it. It was the Brisbane river, normally 2km from us.

All our neighbours were fast asleep, some with water to their floorboards, I had to wake them up. They couldn't believe it was happening and were completely unprepared, I even had to lend them torches. They only just got their cars and pets out, everything else was gone.

We got our car out and up higher but waited until daylight to make our way to our friends. Came back the next day and waded through the waters to retrieve some electronics (Computers, TV etc), more clothing and sentimentals. Everything else was lost.

Never less, count ourselves lucky, pets are all safe - dogs think this was the *BEST* adventure EVAH! We had to strip the plasterboard out of the house - nasty mess and mold in the insulation, but its a 50's house, core structure is *solid*, metal frame and polished hardwood floors, cleaned up a treat.

Also we had a Portable site office converted into a granny flat, with minimal cleanup, power restored and a 3.6KW AirCon :) we were able to move back into it while we restore the house. 2 People, 3 dogs and 3 cats living in 21 square meters - its cosy :) but it beats the hell out of a living room floor or a refugee centre.

Must mention the volunteers - just awesome, couldn't have managed without them, a true display of community spirit, for 5 days we had 20-30 people a day coming in cleaning up and rebuilding. The first day the flood broke a local tradie came round with a gurney, blasting the river mud off. So many people, organised by the council or turning up on their own initiative, some drove up from the gold coast. It was a humbling experience, as I said to the council woman - My SO and I are usually bitter twisted misanthropes but our dark crusty little hearts had grown two whole sizes from this experience.

I'm not sure she got the reference, seemed to avoid me after that :)

A special shout out to the Wynnum-Manley Football club who ripped out our gyprock and broke up the mud on our lawn and a Carina Pentecostal group who came back twice to help with the final clean up and gave my wife some clothes. Also the Labour member for Goodna who came round after finding his office destroyed and spent an afternoon washing an embarrassingly large amount of dirt off our upper walls - embarrassing because the upper part didn't actually go under.

And finally, a special thanks to the storm on Tuesday which dropped a tree on our carport :) at least we got to claim something from AAIMI.
Blackpaw: Oh goodness! I'm so sorry you had to live what must have been a complete nightmare. I can't imagine the horror and the mess. I'm so glad that you had some help afterwards. One of my sons lives in Brisbane ... Balmoral ... but all was fine for him. My daughter lives in Ipswich. She had to evacuate but her house was spared ... very close ... but spared.

My heart goes out to all of you for what you've had to endure lately. And now cyclone Yasi is on the way. I just hate to think what devastation that will bring if predictions of it's path and strength prove correct.

Best wishes to you. It's lovely to meet another Aussie here!