Google satellite timelapse shows 32 years of drought, flood and urban growth in Bendigo

BOOM AND BUST: Google satelite images show Lake Eppalock during the millelium drought and after the 2011 floods.
BOOM AND BUST: Google satelite images show Lake Eppalock during the millelium drought and after the 2011 floods.

Google has launched a satellite timelapse tool which captures more than three decades of urban growth, flood, drought and environmental change in Bendigo. 

Since 1984 the city’s population has swollen by tens of thousands.

Rural and farming communities like Maiden Gully, Strathdale, Marong and Epsom have been absorbed as satellite suburbs into one of Australia’s fastest growing regional cities. 

The millennium drought turned its surrounding farming land to dust and emptied its major water storages – Lake Eppalock and Cairn Curran among them – and reduced its rivers like the Campaspe to a trickle.  

Now those dramatic changes can be seen in a matter of seconds on Google Earth Engine. 

The tool is billed as a “multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities” and promises to help scientists, researchers and developers detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface.

But for the average web surfer it paints a dazzling portrait of growth and change. Here’s some of our favourites.

Number 1 – Lake Eppalock fills, empties and fills again

Record breaking September rains have filled one of central Victoria’s most prized lakes for recreation, luring the crowds back to its caravan parks and onto their water skis. 

But it wasn’t that long ago the lake had lost four fifths of its capacity, things were getting dire for local businesses and conflict was flaring with environmentalists. 

Number 2 – The story of Bendigo’s growth

In the 1981 census Bendigo had a population of 58,800. The City of Greater Bendigo population forecast for 2016 is almost double that at 112,853.

That growth has seen rural outskirts and farming communities transform into suburbs. Above we’ve captured the absorption of of Maiden Gully, Kangaroo Flat and the Epsom/Huntly area into Bendigo. 

Number 3 – The millennium drought 

The 2000s drought in Australia is said to have been the worst recorded since European settlement.

Watch the impact on the big dry from the late ‘90s through the the 2000s on townships like Wedderburn – as well as more recent dry spells.