Last weekend we made our way to Toowoomba for Easterfest!!!! We have pretty much gone ever year since 2006 (only missed 2007 because there was really nothing we wanted to see and my WH couldn’t get the time off). This year was promising to be a huge year, with an equally huge line up. Switchfoot being the biggest draw card. They were playing on the Saturday night & we arrived early Friday morning.
Friday night the weather looked like it was going to rain, but it passed over the top of us without a drop. Saturday night was another story all together. Like the Friday night there was cloud over head as we were getting into the acts we were watching, this one however came from a different direction than the cloud from the night before. And it was black! You probably think that you know where I am going? Rain right? Well..yes it certainly did rain. But that was only the beginning.
It has rained at Easterfest before, nothing really all that new. One year myself, WH & sister were huddles underneath an umbrella while slowly sliding down a muddy slope. But this rain was different. After the fact we found out that the rain came from a single storm cell that was only as big as the CBD area (which is where Queens park is located that Easterfest is in every year), the cell was so small that you could hardly see it on the weather radar. When it started raining I threw our coats into the waterproof bag that our picnic blanket came in, pull out the DSLR camera bags built-in raincoat (great feature!), put on my own raincoat & ended up throwing the picnic blanket (plastic side up) over myself & our belongings that I couldn’t keep dry any other way.
The rain kept getting heavier, I decided that I should just go down into the mosh pit. So I covered everything with the upside down picnic blanket & went down into the mosh pit to join my WH & his two sisters. Within a few minutes the rain got heavier again & I noticed that there was water getting into my shoes. When I looked down I was shocked to find that I couldn’t see my feet anymore for all the water that was in the mosh pit. Getting colder I decided that I wanted to go back up to where I belonging were. Our friend M was the only person left out of all our friends & was watching our belongings. Within 5 seconds of standing with M we noticed that water was rushing down underneath the picnic blanket & everything was moving down the hill & not just our stuff but my sister-in-laws & my own sisters belongings were on the move as well.
With the help of a couple of kind strangers we gathered up everything and joined the masses exiting the main stage area in search of somewhere dry. After we found another tent that we could sort ourselves out (we were now standing in water half way up my calves) we headed for the entrance tent to make our way to our car so we could take everything somewhere dry. Once we got to the entrance tent (which was the size of a circus tent) we were turned back by Easterfest staff saying that we couldn’t go through because the tent was about to collapse under the weight of the water (yep it was raining that hard), we were pointed towards the east side of the park where they had opened another exit. While we were making our way to the east exit we started to see thongs (aka flip-flops) & parts of the plastic foot path floating past in ever-deepening water. At its maximum we were wading through knee-deep water.
We exited the festival & I honestly didn’t know where we were, I was just totally turned around. Thankfully myself & M just followed the vast majority of people & ended up on the main road which from there I knew where I was going. Now we started to see emergency services personnel coming from everywhere. And it wasn’t difficult to see why. In only 10mins or so the creek that ran along the outside of Queens park had gone from a small creek to a raging torrent that was very close to breaking its bank, water was coming out of manholes & storm drains. At parts we were still wading through knee-deep water. We had to cross a couple of roads, at one crossing we had to walk through a very flooded drain I must have walked too close to the storm drain cause once I was in the water I realised how fast the water was running and I couldn’t lift my feet without being washed away. M came to my rescue and grabbed hold of my hand and helped me out of the water.
After we got everything into the car we decided to get back into the festival, using the theory that we would be warmer if we were in the mosh pit with those who had stayed. And yes Switchfoot still went onto the stage, for a slightly shorter amount of time. Then this time with everyone in tow we left the festival venue again & made it to our car & headed back to our hotel room. What really struck me was that once it stopped bucketing down with rain & just drizzled all the water had gone down.
It was so scary to witness just how easy the devastating flood that hit Toowoomba in January actually happened. Really scary when you look back on the whole event, but I wasn’t scared in the moment.
Sunday at Queens Park was cancelled, but quite a few of the artist played in the city instead.
The events of Saturday night made national (and apparently international) news, because of how soon this event occurred after the events of January.
News links: Sunshine Coast Daily, Toowoomba’s Chronicle, Herald Sun