Video footage of a cottage floating down the Manning River at Tinonee, near Taree, on the Mid North Coast of NSW during floods on Saturday, March 20, went viral, and the tragic story of the couple living in it made international news. Sarah Soars and Joshua Edge lost everything in the flood, including their pets, on the very day they were due to get married.
Peter Bowrie and Tracia Milton, the couple who own the property and rented the cottage to Josh and Sarah, are also facing a heartbreaking loss - not just of the cottage itself, but six kilometres of fencing from the farm, around 50 bales of silage, plus 192 head of cattle washed away down the river in the floods.
The couple are new to the area, and this disaster follows on from the January 2020 bushfires affecting their Braidwood property, on the southern tablelands of NSW.
Incredibly, Peter says it looks like they have recovered possibly 50 to 60 animals.
"There's got to be at least 50, we're just hoping there's a lot more than that. But I'd be surprised if we got 50 per cent (back)," Peter said.
Peter and Tracia, who live down south but spend much of their time on their farm, were on the property when disaster broke.
"It was the plovers that alerted my girlfriend in the early hours in the morning. She said 'what are they going off about?' and the heifer was in the middle of the pumpkins. She was the only one that didn't leave the place. Even though she must have swum somewhere, she never left the property," Peter said.
Peter and Tracia were able to recover their two bulls and a few cattle.
"There were two that were still there just about the same time as the house went, and they went at the same time. But they came across to the bank very quickly, and they saw daylight - they were probably able to see the others."
During the weekend reports of cattle being found in strange places from Tinonee downriver to Taree and beyond were being posted on social media. Many of them were from Peter's herd.
"There are about 30 at my adjoining two neighbours, and about another 10 near that, there's one down at KFC, there's another at the fish co-op, and on different islands in the river.
Five made land at Tinonee and were made comfortable in the grounds of Tinonee Public School. Thwarted groom, Josh Edge, who was stuck in Tinonee during the floods, and his father fenced off a section of the school grounds and found food for the cattle.
And one looks like it might have found a home in someone's backyard in Taree.
"The guy's daughter said she'd never thought he'd fall in love with an animal but I think he's falling in love with this one. She sent a video clip of her father feeding it. They've called it Bruiser, and my girlfriend said if the cow does come back, they might have to get visitation rights!" Peter laughed.
But the strangest report was that of a calf washed up at Old Bar Beach on the Saturday.
Locals, lifesavers and Taree Veterinary Hospital vet, Dr Rob Brudar, rescued the calf, and it is now happily high and dry and doing well. Peter was able to identify the calf as being his by the nick in its ear.
Although the couple are feeling "quietly devastated", in Tracia's words, Peter still maintains a healthy sense of humour and a heart full of gratitude. He is full of praise for neighbours, Brett and Helen Currie.
"They own the turf farm at the end of our place. They have just not stopped doing things for us, him and his worker. Brett is not just being generous now, he's been generous in the past," Peter said, remembering how a month ago Brett helped him move 250 bales of silage up high on the property, which thankfully did not get taken by the flood.
"The other neighbours, a couple of older ones, they brought over some thermoses and brought a cup of tea, and other neighbours said 'look, we can't do anything for you, but come over and have some lunch'.
"The district in general has been extremely good to us. There are so many people who have just gone out of their way," Peter said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Peter and Tracia to help them recover as they did not have flood insurance.
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