Flooded Crosslands campground faces momentous clean-up task

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View from the eastern side, looking at Kent Lodge and the swimming pool. (Credit: Crosslands Youth and Convention Centre Facebook)

With extreme weather conditions causing flash flooding across New South Wales, Crosslands Youth and Convention Centre—located next to the Hawkesbury River in Sydney’s north—was submerged in 1.2 metres of water on Sunday, February 9.

Now, caretakers Bruce and Maxine Hill face an overwhelming clean-up task.

“By Monday morning the water was all gone again, but there’s about 100 millimetres of mud right across the whole site, and in the low-lying cabins [Kent Lodge, cabins on the oval, nature centre]. It’s just devastating,” said Mr Hill.

The entire campground—from the western bush chapel at Still Creek, to the eastern canoe shed at Berowra Creek—was submerged. It is the third—and worst—flood to affect the site in the past seven years.

“I went for a walk around the grounds to see the mess and just about cried,” said Mr Hill. “The hardest part is actually the swimming pool, there’s fish in there. It looks like thick, brown sewerage.”

As well as mud, the deluge has left a knee-deep layer of leaf litter across the site, and a large tree has fallen, destroying some of the tennis court fencing and power lines.

“We’ve got no power, and we’ve also got no water,” said Mr Hill. “Problem is, we can’t clean anything without clean water.

“We thought the fallen tree had ripped a pipe out of the ground, but it’s not that. Now we’re thinking that the steep road down from the Eddie Long building has actually moved and cracked the pipe and the ground, so we’re cutting the road up to find out,” he added.

As well as the momentous task of pulling up the road, leaf litter needs clearing from the oval.

“Last time it flooded, we put the leaf litter across the garden which helped it grow, but this time we want to spread it evenly across the oval and sow some seeds to help the grass grow. It’s a blessing really, but we really need someone with a tractor with a tine [or tiller] to spread the stuff across the oval,” said Mr Hill. “That would really help us.

“I’ve had [a group] offer to help, but then lost contact with them. I was just going to get them to drive around the whole site and clear logs, debris and garbage.”

Due to the widespread damage, two groups had to be evacuated. Crosslands management has also been forced to cancel a group who had planned to visit this week.

“Macarthur [school] were supposed to come next week, but we’ll see,” said Mr Hill. “We just have to keep going and do the best we can.

“We’ve had a lot of messages of support, but I didn’t get them until this morning because my phone got wrecked when I was wading through the water. There are lots of people saying they’re praying for us, and we really appreciate that.”

If you have a tractor that can be used to clear the oval, or wish to offer your skills and support, please contact Crosslands Youth and Convention Centre on (02) 9653 1041.