There was flash flooding across Melbourne and flood warnings on the Murray River on Friday, as a rain bomb dumped rain across a broad swathe of south-eastern Australia.
In NSW, campers at the Bathurst 1000 were warned away from trees and riverbanks, with more than a dozen rivers expected to flood over the weekend.
Elsewhere, there were also flood watches across southern Queensland and in Tasmania.
It came as a trough and cold front moved across eastern Australia on Friday, bringing further widespread rain to NSW’s east – and fears of heavy rain, storms and dangerous flash flooding as conditions worsen on Saturday
Up to 100 millimetres of rain is predicted for motorsport mecca Mount Panorama this weekend, potentially leading to flooding along the Macquarie River in Bathurst.
Severe thunderstorms could also bring damaging winds to the region.
Free sandbags will be available in Bathurst while volunteers are checking in with residents and tourists camping near the Macquarie River.
In Melbourne, meanwhile, there were warnings of flash flooding in Frankston in the outer south-east and in South Melbourne, Elwood and Docklands in the inner-city.
Parts of central Victoria, including some Melbourne suburbs, copped 20-30 millimetres of rain in about an hour on Friday morning.
The Bureau of Meteorology also issued a further warning for severe thunderstorms across central Victoria early on Friday afternoon. By later in the afternoon, the threat was highest in eastern Victoria and easing in Melbourne.
“There is a risk of heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding with these storms,” BOM said.
Across Victoria there were multiple rescues of people who had driven into floodwaters.
“The message today is that if there is water on the road – forget it – find another way,” Laura Dewildt from the State Emergency Service said.
NSW’s danger day lies ahead
Parts of NSW face a dangerous 36 hours, with heavy rain expected to fall well into Saturday.
There are warnings of renewed river flooding in Sydney’s west, just months after record peaks earlier this year.
The SES has warned people near Penrith to stay informed about predicted river rises in the Nepean, Hawkesbury and their tributaries.
“We’re very conscious your communities have experienced four floods within an 18-month period and acknowledge the anxiety you will be feeling at this time,” Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke said on Friday.
However, conditions were expected to worsen after a brief respite on Saturday morning, as a low-pressure system formed along the coast in the afternoon. It is forecast to bring renewed rain by Saturday night.
The worst of the weather should ease by Sunday, according to the weather bureau.
Statewide, the NSW SES received 365 calls for assistance in the 24 hours to Friday morning, including four for flood rescues.
Cotton town Warren, where waters have been above the major flood level since Monday, is subject to one of 14 watch-and-act flood alerts in NSW.
Renewed and prolonged flooding is continuing in inland NSW at the Namoi, Macquarie, Bogan, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, Murray, Edward, Culgoa, Birrie, Bokhara, Warrego, Paroo, Barwon and Darling rivers.
Inland towns being monitored closely include Gunnedah, Narrabri, Tamworth, Dubbo and Forbes.
Emergency services don’t want people entering flooded causeways and other river crossings, police said.
“It wasn’t very long ago we had a five-year-old boy … who was killed in a car that was washed off a bridge,” NSW Police superintendent Bob Noble said, referring to an incident in Tullamore two weeks ago.
“You can imagine how devastating that is for that family. It’s a terribly hard way to learn a lesson for society.”
More than 90 millimetres fell at Sydney’s Observatory Hill on Thursday, helping topple the city’s annual rainfall record set in 1950.
North of the border, there were also flood watches for rivers across much of southern Queensland. Much of Tasmania’s north was also under flood watches on Friday.
Farmers are also concerned the latest deluge will destroy crops while graziers have been warned to shelter lambs and sheep.
The weather bureau has warned livestock is at risk in NSW, with temperatures set to plunge in the Illawarra, south coast, southern tablelands, southwest slopes, Snowy Mountains and ACT regions.