A 350-kilometre stretch of the National Highway will remain closed in the Northern Territory “for several more days” after record-flooding in the Victoria River district.

Key points:

  • The NT government expects the Victoria Highway to be under repair for several months
  • The community of Timber Creek remains isolated by floodwaters that include crocodiles
  • The Darwin-to-Adelaide rail line has reopened ahead of schedule following flood damage repairs

The Victoria Highway is currently closed between the Buntine Highway intersection and the Western Australian border.

According to the NT Department of Infrastructure’s Shane Tepper, there had likely been “significant damage” across various sections of the highway.

“There’s still some sections that have more than two metres of water above the road,” he said.

“There’s various areas that have been underwater for more than a week and there’s likely to be significant damage to some of the road and undermining of pavements at various culverts and crossings.”

He said road maintenance crews would start work as soon as the area was accessible, and people were nervously watching to see if the region would receive more heavy rain from ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily, which had been slowly moving west.

“I’d say there’s likely to be significant damage to the highway, and then ongoing repairs over the next several months will likely be required,” Mr Tepper said.

Floodwater reaches the roof of the Timber Creek Museum.(Supplied: Bazza Burrowes)

Timber Creek isolated

The small community of Timber Creek remains isolated, after the Victoria River burst its banks in a flood event that eclipsed the river’s previous height record set in 1991.

Curator of the local museum Bazza Burrowes was evacuated from town and, while in the air, took a photo of his beloved museum swamped by floodwater.

“It’s pretty devastating,” he told ABC Darwin.

“The biggest thing that worries me is that all the history is lost.

“I’m hoping we’ll salvage something but it doesn’t look good.”

Local ranger Dominique Michel said a few saltwater crocodiles had been spotted swimming through the streets of Timber Creek and traps had been installed.

“There’s one set up right on the Victoria Highway itself, which I think might be a first,” she said.

“It’s on the highway, right outside the police station, so we’re assured it’s getting well monitored.”

Rail line back on track

Meanwhile, the Darwin-to-Adelaide rail line had reopened with operator Aurizon confirming the first freight service had today run from Alice Springs to Darwin.

The rail line had been closed since January 19 after flooding damaged up to 2.5 kilometres of the track north of Tennant Creek.

Aurizon said its infrastructure crews had “restored flood-affected rail infrastructure days ahead of schedule”.

“It was originally expected that services would only restart later this week,” a spokesperson said.

“This was an outstanding effort from the Aurizon team, with the support of contractors, to recover more than two kilometres of damaged track north of Tennant Creek.

“This first service has effectively cleared all our customers’ freight in Alice Springs, and work is now underway to clear any backlog of freight in our Adelaide depot that is destined for the NT.”

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