It seemed like "every other week" when Barry O'Hagan was young that he'd walk through floodwaters to get to his family home on Tarcutta Street.
During the 1950s, Mr O'Hagan lived in a house across the street from what is now Bolton Park between Forsyth and Berry Street.
"I remember one flood, I had to walk through the water to get home, it would have been about 1956," Mr O'Hagan said.
"I put my brother's bed on top of mine, went to sleep and when I woke up, the water was lapping at me."
Meanwhile, his grandmother used to live behind what is now the Sturt Mall, but was what then "just a big lagoon".
"My grandmother was right in the dip, she used to get flooded all the time. There was a lot of cleaning up afterwards," Mr O'Hagan said.
"Back then the water would get right up to Fitzhardinge [Street]. It seemed like every time there was rain, there'd be flooding."
Other history stories:
When the river was likely to break its banks, the residents of the flood-prone area would be evacuated to the showgrounds.
"It could take a week or a couple of weeks for the floods to recede," Mr O'Hagan said.
"We took what we could and went camping out at the showgrounds. We'd go to school from there, [but] it was like camping with all your friends."
As he recalls it, businesses along Baylis Street and Fitzmaurice Street resorted to some creative strategies to keep the doors open.
"Places like Romano's [had] bricks they'd bring out when it rained, they'd brick up around the front doors to keep the water out so they could keep trading," Mr O'Hagan said.
"Every time it stormed you knew there'd be a lot of water and the water's got to go somewhere. Still does, that's why we end up with cars all underwater.
"I reckon we do get more storms now than we did then. Back then it would rain for two or three weeks, but now we'll get one huge storm and then the sun will be out 20 minutes later."
All that existed in the space that would become the Marketplace in 1979 and the Sturt Mall in 1996 was "just a swamp", as Mr O'Hagan recalls it.
During the 1950s, the area that would one day become the Sturt Mall car park was just the Kelso Bakery paddocks.
Water would run from Willans Hill to Bolton Park via Morgan Street, pooling into a lagoon along the edge of the paddock.
"That lagoon never dried up, it was a good spot for yabbying," Mr O'Hagan said.
"Blokes would often take a canoe down it."
In July 1995, when the site was chosen for the Marketplace, a development application was lodged along with an environmental impact statement that makes reference to the "old creek bed" that runs underneath.
It makes reference to a storm that caused flash flooding in January 1995.
"Essentially the problem of flooding of Forsyth Street will remain but will not be made worse by the proposed development," the original application reads.
Then-council town planner Ian Graham was involved in writing the development application more than 26 years ago.
He told The Daily Advertiser drainage and flash flooding would always plague the area, but enormous work was done to pipe the swamp away from the construction.
"There's not much that could be done, you could only engineer it for a certain storm frequency before it will start to flood there," Mr Graham said.
In other news:
The remnant of its yesteryear condition was seen as recently as February 5, 2021, when high rainfall in a short time caused problems for the road between the two shopping centres.
According to the council's director of operations Warren Faulkner, the low point in the road near the pedestrian crossing on Forsyth Street has been addressed by an underground urban stormwater system of pipes designed for minor flows of up to a 1-in-10 event.
During major 1-in-100 event flows, stormwater will divert via the road network.
"There is a low point (sag) in Forsyth Street so flows greater than the 1 in 10 event will pond in the street. This is what happened [two weeks ago]," Mr Faulkner said.
To avoid pooling in the Marketplace car park as frequently as it once did, Mr Faulkner said a 1500mm diameter pipe had been installed "upstream of Forsyth Street at Bolton Park to direct a lot of the water running in the pipe into Bolton Park".
In light of the recent flooding, Mr Faulkner said new stormwater engineers would be recruited to undertake assessments and "determine if there are further opportunities to improve stormwater management in this catchment".