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Floods reveal 'unbelievable' discovery, family boat washes 70km downstream to uncle's backyard

By Emma Siossian, Wednesday April 7, 2021 - 02:42 AEST
ABC image
Brad Gow's tinny tumbled through floodwaters for 70km before landing at his uncle's property. - ABC

In 2016, an aluminium boat provided the perfect setting for Brad Gow's wedding proposal. 


Five years later,  it has provided another silver lining for his flood-ravaged family ? finding its way home after being swept away in a raging river.


Mr Gow said the tinny had been nicknamed the 'love boat' ever since the proposal and he recalled the moment his wife said "yes".


"So, I had set it all up and she jumped in the boat and we were going up the river and we had a little esky in there," he said.


"When she turned around I had the champagne out and an engagement ring, which was actually my grandmother's.


"I sort of had the ring in my hand and I forgot to ask her, and she was just looking at me and said, 'Well you have to ask me', so I asked her, and she said yes."


'Love boat' washed away in flood


Brad and Leah Gow now have a three-year-old son and are expecting their second child any day.


Their special little boat was stored at the back of their property at Telegraph Point, on the NSW Mid North Coast, when a huge flood tore through the town in late March.


The flood devastated the small community. Homes were destroyed along with the local school, which was now being rebuilt.


The tinny was among many possessions, including fence lines, swept from the back of the Gows' home. A bridge was also destroyed.


"We knew it [the tinny] was gone," Mr Gow said. 


"Our neighbour's place right next door had completely gone under.


"We just knew the force of the river, and we knew how big and how bad the flood was, so we just had absolutely no hope."


An 'unbelievable' discovery


A few days later, Mr Gow visited his uncle's home on a canal in Port Macquarie, about a half-hour drive south of Telegraph Point.


He was there to help clean up flood debris scattered across the backyard.


"My uncle was describing all the types of things that had washed up and I said, 'It's going to be a bit of a treasure hunt with all the things around,'" Mr Gow said.


"He said, 'Yeah, there's even a boat washed up down there.'"


Mr Gow decided to take a closer look.


"I thought while I was waiting I'd go down and check out the little tinny, not that I was thinking it was mine at all," he said.


"Then when I got closer I thought 'Oh, that looks like the rope that was on the front of ours', then I thought, 'If that has got that rental sticker on the front I'll definitely know it's ours'. 


"Next thing you know it was ours, I couldn't believe it ? I just thought how much of a fluke it was.


"For me just to sort of stumble upon it myself was absolutely crazy ? I did go and buy two lotto tickets that day."


Mr Gow said the boat had been on an incredible journey from Telegraph Point to Port Macquarie.


"It's gone down about 70 kilometres worth of river and all the twists and bends, it should have, if anywhere, ended up in the ocean," he said.


"It had no bungs in it either, so it didn't even really float.


"It would have just tumbled through the floodwater until it got there ? absolutely unbelievable."


'Love Boat' becomes 'Boomerang'


Mr Gow said he and his wife would definitely be keeping the boat in their family.


"We talk about it all the time, we had sort of nicknamed it the love boat. I think now we will nickname it the boomerang," he said.


Ms Gow said it was a bright moment in the middle of much devastation ? their neighbours lost everything in the flood.


"I felt total disbelief when Brad told me he found the boat," she said.


"I just felt guilty that we had lost so little and were lucky enough to get this special memory back, and others had lost a lifetime of memories and will never get them back.


"We were very lucky."


Helping neighbours recover 


Mr Gow said his neighbours used their own tinny during the flood to escape from their home.


"Our neighbours' house went completely under ? it went above their dining room table," he said.


"They arrived in their little tinny at our back door, they parked at our fence line and walked up and have been staying at our place ever since, for about two weeks, while they try and clean up at their place.


"We've cleaned all the house up and got it all ready for the gyprockers to come in and then they will paint and start moving furniture back in.


"They've been through a few floods and it never even got close before. This one was just next level."







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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