Grantham: The story of the little town in Queensland that moved after the 2011 flood

4 March 2024

Many communities in Queensland face a significant, ever-present risk of flooding; 16 of the 20 most flood-prone Federal electorates in Australia are located across the state. Suncorp has long advocated on behalf of our customers and communities for greater investment in flood mitigation; reducing the risk of damage from natural disasters such as floods can help to drive down insurance costs for homeowners, minimise adverse economic impacts on the broader community, and ultimately save lives.

When posed with such options as risk reduction, where does relocating an entire town sit in the mix of disaster mitigation options available to governments and communities? Can a relocated town maintain its sense of community and flourish while being better protected from natural disaster?

These are the questions that emerge with the launch of a new book ‘Rising from the floods’; a detailed account of the efforts to relocate the town of Grantham in the Lockyer Valley, South East Queensland, in the aftermath of devastating flash flooding that destroyed the town on January 10, 2011. The book’s author, Jamie Simmonds, had been involved with the Lockyer Valley Council for several years prior to the 2011 floods as a geo-environmental engineer, paving the way for his crucial role in the relocation of the town of Grantham after the floods.

Grantham presented an opportunity to trial ‘managed retreat’; a unique approach to flood mitigation in Australia. Relocating the town to a nearby parcel of land above the water line would make it more resilient over the long-term. Residents would not only be better protected from the risk of damage in a future flood, but its community would be able to keep their connections to the area and to each other.

• Rising from the Flood: Moving the Town of Grantham – ebook and print
editions by Jamie Simmonds

Please note there are many perspective to this story.  This is the perspective of the insurance industry and the local council.