THE severe weather that has thrashed the east coast of Australia over the past two weeks seems to be abating for now, but the impact on shipping and logistics lingers.

Brisbane is still recovering from the mammoth floods that shut down the port last week.

An update from the Port of Brisbane on Wednesday said river conditions had improved compared with last week, but river velocity and turbidity continue to be challenges.

“The assessment of port navigational areas remains ongoing, with well over 160 debris obstructions already identified downstream of Hamilton and approximately 60 navigational aids being rendered inoperable,” the port update said.

“This debris is being removed and aids fixed or replaced as soon as possible when it is safe to do so.”

Port of Brisbane said vessel movements are still restricted, with vessel movements under the harbour master’s direction are to return on a 24/7 basis from Wednesday evening at Fisherman Island. Vessels longer than 300 metres are restricted.

Meanwhile, the New South Wales coast weathered extraordinary amounts of rain over the past several days, followed by high winds, which impacted shipping movements at the state’s major ports.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority of New South Wales said pilotage was suspended at Port Kembla on Tuesday due to inclement weather. Conditions at the port are being continuously reviewed, and pilotage has recommenced on a case-by-case basis.

“At Newcastle following incessant rain, the Hunter River was declared full fresh on Thursday, 3 March,” they said.

“Shipping movements were suspended at Newcastle on Wednesday morning due to heavy swell at the entrance. This will be reviewed late on Wednesday afternoon. The weather and river conditions are being closely monitored.”

And the port authority spokesperson said pilotage at Sydney Harbour and Port Botany was suspended on Tuesday night and re-commenced on a case-by-case basis on Wednesday.

“During this time a number of shipping movements had to be rescheduled to allow for an abatement of weather conditions,” they said.

Impact on shipping

Several shipping lines have announced changes to schedules for the east coast ports.

Maersk announced on Tuesday that because of weather and flooding, GSL Christel Elisabeth on the Komodo service would omit Brisbane and Sydney. And earlier, on 4 March, Maersk announced Maersk Nansha, on the Cobra service, was omitting Brisbane as well.

And ANL has announced omissions and changes to its east-coast schedules as well. Xin Da Lian is omitting a Sydney call after it departed Brisbane, heading back to Japan on the A3N service. The company said the ship’s Sydney cargo would be discharged at Brisbane.

Additionally, the company announced OOCL Canada and OOCL Beijing would omit Brisbane, discharging Brisbane cargo at Melbourne and Sydney, respectively.

On the rail

Meanwhile flooding has impacted some intestate rail services.

A spokesperson for the Australian Rail Track Corporation said the interstate network from Grafton to Acacia Ridge in Brisbane was scheduled to re-open on Tuesday, and the Hunter Valley network remains operational.

“Services are currently suspended on the interstate network between Berrima Junction to MacArthur due to ongoing repair works being carried out,” the spokesperson said.

“The network between Moss Vale to Unanderra also remains closed due to unsafe operating conditions. There is no current timeframe for the recommencement of operations on these sections.

The ARTC spokesperson said a full inspection of impacted areas of the network has been undertaken and necessary repairs to the track are underway where possible.