Dunbogan Caravan Park a trial site for floating accommodation as a flood-proof solution for riverside communities

The Camden Haven in flood, March 2021. Image shot by High Vision @PMQ2444.
The Camden Haven in flood, March 2021. Image shot by High Vision @PMQ2444.

A state-of-the-art prototype for floating accommodation will be trialled in the Camden Haven as a flood-proof solution for affordable housing after the region was impacted by its worst flooding in recent memory earlier this year.

Hundreds of residents were stranded, displaced or left homeless across the Mid North Coast, homes were inundated and more than $70 million in damage was sustained to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council infrastructure during the floods in March this year.

Dunbogan caravan park owner Cicely Sylow is working in partnership with maritime engineers Arup and Queensland engineer James Davidson to design and build a floating home prototype to help provide a flood-proof for future for people living in riverside communities.

FLOOD RELIEF: A similar project designed in Queensland. Photo: James Davidson Architect.

FLOOD RELIEF: A similar project designed in Queensland. Photo: James Davidson Architect.

Mr Davidson, director of JDA Co, said the concept of floating homes has already been investigated around the world including in the Netherlands, southern USA and in Queensland.

"We are designing a system with the intent that when the accommodation is raised, internally everything will be fine because movement is restricted laterally and it will rise up vertically with the flood," he said.

"For Dunbogan, the intent is to work on a model of floating accommodation different to a floating home project we have done in Queensland.

"The shape of the floodplain in the Camden Haven means that the water velocity isn't massive compared to some projects we have worked on.

"We have seen 4.5 metres of water travelling at 12 metres a second (in Queensland) but the slower flooding in Dunbogan is quite helpful when it comes to trying to find a system to suit the need.

"We have a site at Dunbogan Caravan Park, it looks very promising and our engineers are helping us to make sure what we propose can withstand the forces of a flood."

Mr Davidson said he originally came up with the idea while transporting building materials to island homes on floating pontoons.

The trial site at Dunbogan Caravan Park has been offered by Ms Sylow, who approached Mr Davidson about testing the concept locally.

She is also the owner of Diamond Waters Caravan Park where she has also received development consent to increase affordable housing and disability accessible accommodation in the area.

 Camden Haven River. Photo: Lee Hartshorne.

Camden Haven River. Photo: Lee Hartshorne.

Diamond Waters is in the process of upgrading access to accommodation, amenities blocks, bench heights and facilities to assist people with mobility issues

Floating homes would be more beneficial for elderly residents in the Camden Haven rather than traditional accommodation built on raised supports, Ms Sylow said.

"The floods demonstrated that many caravan parks act as affordable housing in our local government area, but they are also flood prone and more exposed to climate risks like flooding," she said.

"We are providing the land, knowledge of caravan park and the compliance side. We have an international engineering firm, expert architects and we have AusIndustry working with us to get this off the ground.

"I like this project because it provides a different mechanism to protecting homes rather than raising. It provides a solution for elderly residents or people with mobility issues to still live in their chosen location.

"We are getting the designs right, the engineering right and getting the build done for a prototype. Once we get that done we then have a solution.

"We have got development consent, we have done the heights and calculations that need to be done. We'd expect to see a prototype ready within 18 months. I'm personally hoping 12 months."

DIAMOND WATERS: Cicely Sylow, Noel Douglas, June Douglas, Stephen Ritchie with Georgie Ritchie, Sam Ritchie and Will Ritchie. Photo: Supplied/Cicely Sylow.

DIAMOND WATERS: Cicely Sylow, Noel Douglas, June Douglas, Stephen Ritchie with Georgie Ritchie, Sam Ritchie and Will Ritchie. Photo: Supplied/Cicely Sylow.

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