The devastating floods sweeping through Queensland have reached the outer suburbs of Brisbane, the state's capital, and now threaten some of the state's top tourist destinations.
Heavy rain fell yesterday on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, prompting warnings of flash flooding, and a close watch was also being kept on the Gold Coast, a major draw for the state's tourism industry and an essential part of Queensland's economy.
At one of the busiest times of the year for tourism, holidaymakers have been warned to avoid campsites close to rivers. The flood warnings are a further blow to Queensland's tourism, which is already estimated to have suffered losses of AUS$1bn (€770m) as a result of the floods.
Brett Harrison, a weather forecaster, said there had been reports of flooding in low-lying areas of Brisbane and the situation was expected to worsen.
"It is not in the city at the moment but it is certainly going to increase over the next 24 to 48 hours. We are expecting heavy rain to continue during that time," he said. "There is a possibility of moderate to major flooding for areas west of Brisbane."
Jeff Perkins, a senior hydrologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the Gold Coast, which lies south of Brisbane, could face flash floods. Towns in the north of New South Wales are also bracing themselves.
"We have been getting up to 50mm in an hour. In an urban area the drainage system cannot cope," he said. "The Gold Coast is really susceptible to heavy rainfall."
Authorities have urged residents in low-lying areas of the state's south-east to secure their personal belongings and have an escape route in mind.
Elsewhere in the state, people in some 40 towns already affected by the "biblical" floods are anxiously waiting for the waters to subside.
River levels have stayed stubbornly high and the latest rains also brought flooding to the Mary River, whose waters in the towns of Gympie and Maryborough were threatening to inundate scores of homes.
More than 200,000 people and 10,700 properties have been affected by the floods and the repair bill is estimated to reach AUS$5bn (€3.9bn). (© Daily Telegraph, London)