When last month’s floods swept through New South Wales’ central west, members of the Wellington Warriors Football Club could only watch as their shipping container floated down the Bell River.
The bright red container was packed with about $100,000 worth of equipment and kit.
“It was swept away so quickly,” club president Peter Lewsam said.
“When we knew it had gone, we sat down and worked out it contained about 400 playing strips for our juniors, plus balls, posts, line marking and mowing equipment.
“[We] were a bit sick to the stomach to see it float away as we did.”
The club held little hope for the container until a community member made contact to say it had been found.
“It basically washed downstream, went across someone’s backyard and then, as it was about to slip down into the main catchment, which is probably 30 foot [9.1 metres] deep, it caught on to trees and basically stayed propped upright,” Mr Lewsam said.
“Had it gone 10 feet [3 metres] to the other side it probably would have ended up in the Macquarie River and be in Warren by now.”
The joy of locating the container quickly turned to concern because its location was inaccessible by road.
The club put a call out on social media for community members to come and hike 2.5 kilometres to its location and see what could be salvaged.
“We had about 50 locals turn up to give us a hand, and half a dozen of those weren’t even associated with the football club, just people that had heard the story on the radio and wanted to do their thing,” Mr Lewsam said.
“When we opened it up and it was completely dry, we just sat there in amazement.”
Locals create ‘human chain’
It took the volunteers about an hour to empty the container, using a “human chain” to pass all the equipment up a steep embankment.
“We stacked it all up on the riverbank,” Mr Lewsam said.
Eventually an excavator was able to access the site and dragged the shipping container to higher ground.
“It just could have been such a devastating thing for the club but in reality it actually probably galvanised us a little bit,” Mr Lewsam said.