Food supplies to NT’s Top End resume as Stuart Highway reopens after flood repairs

Top End supermarket shelves have been replenished with fresh produce following days of freight disruptions due to flooding on the Northern Territory’s main highway.

Floodwaters from a tropical low pressure system impacted both road and rail access to Darwin across the weekend, leading to shelves at Coles and Woolworths emptying out over Sunday and Monday.

The Stuart Highway was closed from Friday until Sunday afternoon, delaying the arrival of around 50 road trains, some of which were carrying supermarket supplies.

The highway has since reopened to the general public, with a detour in place over a 20 kilometre section near the intersection with the Carpentaria Highway.

NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler said road trains carrying fresh produce were now getting through and reaching major supermarkets in the Top End.

“If you go to Coles or Woolies or any of the supermarkets around Darwin, they will now have fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said.

The Victoria River saw flooding across the weekend.(Supplied: Victoria River Roadhouse)

Ms Lawler said sections of the Stuart Highway would continue to be repaired over the coming days, which could require temporary closures.

“The road will need to continue to be managed,” she said.

The Victoria Highway remains closed due to flooding and is not expected to reopen for at least a few days.

The Adelaide-Darwin rail line was also damaged in the flooding.

Ms Lawler said that was expected to remain out of action for “about two weeks” while freight rail operator Aurizon undertakes repairs.

Eva Lawler says damage to the Adelaide-Darwin rail line could take two weeks to repair.(ABC News: Hamish Harty )

“Aurizon are waiting for the water to go down … They have got sleepers and the equipment ready to go, but we’re thinking that it could possibly be about two weeks,” she said.

“It’s about a two kilometre section. Originally, we thought it was going to be about 500 metres, but it’s more than that.”

Flood damage being assessed in remote communities

Emergency flood declarations remain in place for the communities of Pigeon Hole, Daguragu, Kalkarindji, Yarralin and Timber Creek in the Victoria Daly region. 

Medically vulnerable people from Kalkarindji, Timber Creek and Pigeon Hole were evacuated to Katherine and Darwin across the weekend, but plans for large-scale evacuations were halted by the NT government on Monday after floodwaters began receding.

Residents of Daguragu self-evacuated to Kalkarindji last week, where they remain.

Ms Lawler said members of NT Police were currently assessing flood damage in the affected communities.

“The news that I got through this morning was Kalkarindji was looking fine, [there was] very little damage there at all to the housing,” she said.

“We’re still waiting to hear from Pigeon Hole. There’s about 20 people that are out at [Darwin evacuation centres] YiSSA and Batten Road, so that will be the group that we’ll have to keep the closest eye on, because we need to find out what happened at Pigeon Hole.”

Flood damage is yet to be assessed in Pigeon Hole.(Supplied: Raymond Hector)

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