Following the most extreme flooding on record in Bundaberg and surrounding areas, Telstra internet and phone services to Central Queensland were knocked out for three days.
‘It obviously wasn’t Anthony Mundine. He couldn’t knock out anything,’ said a Telstra spokesman.
The disruption was caused after the main communication tower for the region, located in Rockhampton, was rammed by a barrage of burnt out old Holdens carried out of yards by the floodwaters.
‘Save us towing ‘em to the wreckers,’ said one resident.
‘That was my home,’ said one unlucky local.
Telstra immediately set up a dedicated phone line, website and email address for affected residents. The spokesman was flummoxed by the lack of enquires.
‘There were twenty staff on those phone lines, twenty-four hours a day, and they did not get one call.’
Telstra also had trouble getting a technician to the location.
‘We told the people of Rockhampton to be home between 11am and 4pm, but they’d been evacuated. We left a card, but nobody called to make a new appointment.’
The tower was eventually fixed by retired Telecom workers, who happened to be waterskiing on floodwaters surrounding the tower.
‘The pub was shut, and the boat was out of petrol. So we had nothing else to do.’
Telstra admitted that it was excellent luck.
‘We didn’t have another technician available until August. They’re all busy with the National Broadband Network. Which doesn’t work either.’
The moment the problem was fixed, the phone operators were replaced with an automated message explaining that the problem had been fixed.
Triple zero also dropped offline, meaning that the back-up emergency phone system was activated. Not in use since the late 1800s, the system involves several styrofoam cups and thousands of kilometers of string.
A representative from the Queensland SES explained that the system had its limitations.
‘I think there were a few calls, but it might have just been the wind. It was difficult to tell. Due to all the rain, we couldn’t get the smoke signals fired up either. Excuse the pun.’