As a 38-metre shipping container floated out of control on the flooded Hawkesbury River, Simon McQuillan had only minutes to act. Heroic boatie relives the moment he single-handedly stopped it destroying 24 houseboats
- Simon McQuillan took to a punt to steer the huge container away from boats
- He’s been called a hero for his fast response to the potential threat
- He has operated Able Hawkesbury Houseboats for more than 40 years
- McQuillan said he’s never seen the Hawkesbury River reach such heights
- Threat of more objects in the river remains as more water flows from upstream
Humble boatie Simon McQuillan has relived the moment his quick thinking prevented a disaster.
The longtime skipper has been hailed a hailed a ‘hero’ after using a punt to steer a floating two-tonne shipping container away from crashing into a cluster of moored houseboats on the flooded Hawkesbury River.
Mr McQuillan, the owner of Able Hawkesbury Houseboats at Wiseman’s Ferry, told Daily Mail Australia he had just ‘minutes’ to act when he realised the 38-metre long container was headed for the company’s houseboats.
‘We were alerted to the container floating down the river by friends who were delivering supplies, that’s how they got the drone footage,’ he said.
‘I didn’t have much time, just minutes. But that’s why the punt and the work platform are there, for just such an occasion.’
A drone delivering supplies to stranded Hawkesbury residents captured Simon’s feat
Mr McQuillan said he had never seen the Hawkesbury River so high since 1990
Drone footage shows McQuillan steering the punt into the path of the container and directing it was from pontoons where he had 24 houseboats secured in the rising, fast-flowing river.
The Hawkesbury River had risen to peaks of four metres after the sustained downpour caused by the low pressure system that has dominated the east coast of Australia for days.
Mr McQuillan said he had ‘just minutes’ to steer the container from causing a lot of damage
‘I don’t really see it as heroic,’ said McQuillan. ‘It was just something that was potentially going to cause a lot of damage so I just had to go out and get it out of the way.’
McQuillan, who has operated the houseboat business for 40 years, said he has never seen the Hawkesbury River reach such heights.
‘It came up to a similar level in 1990 but this has actually surpassed that now.’
‘We’ll just see how far it comes up,’ he continued. ‘There’s still stuff happening out there on the water. The local residents who have been cut off from ferries and any road access for quite a number of days now still needs supplies.’
Mr McQuillan speaks with Sunrise’s Matt Doran on the Hawkesbury at Wiseman’s Ferry
The business owner said he had been working the past five days to keep the houseboats secure as various objects including household sheds had floated down the river.
More water expected to arrive from upstream meant the threat had not yet passed, said McQuillan,
‘We hope the river will subside later today but it depends on how water comes through from the dam.
‘If they open the floodgates it will change the situation, we have to just keep an eye on the flood heights.’