By Melissa Sheil
THE banks of the Swan River are still feeling the effects of Perth’s wettest July in 26 years, with mass flooding continuing to inundate the Swan and Avon catchment this week.
Upper Reach Winery in Baskerville was hit particularly hard, as the overflow of the nearby Swan River saw a fifth of its vineyards go underwater.
Vineyard owner and operator Laura Pearse said the flooding started early July, then subsided before coming back in force last week.
“The riverbank is usually about 100 metres away but right now it’s on our doorstep,” she said.
“All of the fence posts in our vineyard are around two metres tall and you can’t even see the top of some, the water’s so deep.”
Mrs Pearse said the situation was a bit of a double-edged sword.
“The vines are dormant in winter so it’s not a huge issue, though if it were summer and harvest time we’d be in trouble,” she said.
“This main vineyard underwater is our reserve shiraz grapes which grow in a unique microclimate so they will love the saturated soil as they generally grow in a flood way.
“It’s more the clean-up we have to worry about.
“There’s flotsam and jetsam that’s drifted through and tangled in the fences and vines which will be very difficult to get rid of.
“Big branches have gotten caught and are pushing against the fencing that we will have to deal with manually because we won’t be able to get any machinery in there due to the silt and mud.”
Despite the hassle, Mrs Pearse remains in good humour, joking that her husband Derek will have to start the pruning in his scuba gear this year and hoping kayakers don’t mistake the vineyard for the river.
“We used to flood quite a bit in the ‘90s and we’ve had a few lost kayakers come through the vineyard and get confused about why there were wires and poles everywhere.
“There’s ducks bobbing through as well and we invite all our customers down to come have a look because it really is quite impressive.
“Some of our regulars, a lovely older couple, have volunteered to come help with the clean up once the water goes down which is very kind because it is a big job.
“I’m resigned to it now.
“It is what it is – just nature doing its thing.”
Severe rain and wind caused havoc across the region with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services issuing alerts for continued minor flooding in the Swan River catchment this week.
On Sunday, fallen trees across Great Eastern Highway in Midland and Jacoby Street outside Sculpture Park in Mundaring disturbed traffic flow.
River adjacent areas such as Maali Bridge Park in Herne Hill and Middle Swan Reserve saw a huge rise in water levels, with benches, car parks and portions of Maali Bridge itself submerged in the high tide.