Feature Journalism Bridgewater on Loddon – Outback magazine

Bridgewater on Loddon – Outback magazine


Bridgewater on Loddon, Vic

The Loddon River makes and breaks this pretty town.

Story + Photos Ricky French  

It was late on a Thursday night in October 2022 when Virginia Hyland and Greg McKinley, owners of the Bridgewater Hotel, got the call from the local police. It was to warn them that the Laanecoorie reservoir could no longer contain the rain lashing Loddon Shire. Floodwaters would soon be surging down the Loddon River, heading straight for the town and their riverfront pub.

Floods are not unusual in Bridgewater on Loddon, a town of 340 people on the Calder Highway, 39km north-west of Bendigo in the agricultural heartland of northern Victoria. The previous major one in 2011 inundated 177 homes, leaving the main street under a metre of water, and impacting more than 2000sq km of prime grain cropping land in the district.

“I knew we were in trouble,” Virginia says, “but the way the town came together to help us prepare for the onslaught was amazing.” By Friday morning a fleet of flatbed trucks was being loaded with furniture destined for the football oval, while a conga line of helpers formed inside the pub, passing up boxes of stock to the safety of the second floor. Virginia and Greg were eventually evacuated on the back of a CFA fire truck. “It was like taking a boat down the main street,” Virginia says. “There were fish swimming in the carpark.”

Read the full story in Outback magazine