INCIDENT OF THE LATE FLOOD, NEW SOUTH WALES, Samuel Calvert, engraver, wood engraving, published in The Illustrated Australian News, August 13, 1870.Contributors
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Heroic stories of Aboriginal people rescuing Europeans during floods abound.
The most famous account of bravery on bark canoes is from the 1852 flood of Gundagai, in New South Wales, when the Murrumbidgee River overflowed, killing almost 100 people in one of Australia’s largest natural disasters. Four Wiradjuri people played a vital role in rescuing townsfolk from certain death with their bark canoes. Singlehandedly, Yarrie, who was reported as being ‘willing to run any risk to give assistance’, rescued 49 people using his canoe to pluck them one or two at a time off rooftops.
In these times, skill with a canoe was crucial. But in swirling floodwater, no matter how skilled at watercraft you were, going out on a canoe was a great risk. Even more so when, as in some accounts, the Aboriginal rescuer would put the European on the canoe and jump into the floodwater to steer the canoe by swimming with it. In the Orbost district, an Aboriginal named Joe Banks rescued a sick non-Aboriginal man during the floods by ‘making a canoe out of a sheet of bark from the roof and placing the sick man in it, swam through the turbulent waters, towing the canoe and its helpless occupant to safety.’ 
This engraving shows a flood in Bodalla, NSW, 1870. Mr. Michael Bell and his family took refuge in the barn after his house was swept away by the flood waters; the barn was full of wheat and so floated down river; the family is shown beating off two bullocks that tried to come on board.
S. Wardiningsih; ‘Remembering Yarrie: An Indigenous Australian and the 1852 Gundagai Flood. Public History Review, vol.19 (2012) pp.120-129.
 Cited in ‘Personalities and Stories of the Early Orbost District' (R.H.S.V Ms, 1972).