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Young family of five hiked to safety after flood waters trapped them in their rainforest cabin

A family who were trapped in their rainforest cabin without power or reception for four days were forced to hike their way to safety with a three-month-old baby and two sons, aged four and two. 

James and Lauren Archer knew it was time to pack up and leave their home in Upper Lansdowne, on the NSW mid-north coast, when catastrophic floods swept through the region in late March, washing away houses and roads. 

The father-of-three told Daily Mail Australia that the only way out of the property was via a bridge he crafted from stray planks during the deluge.

When conditions finally eased on the fourth day, the couple told four-year-old Jack and two-year-old Kai that they were ‘going on an adventure’, strapped three-month-old Liam into a baby carrier, gathered their belongings and began to walk.

Pictured, left to right: James Archer with three-month-old Liam, Jack, four, Lauren Archer, 31, and Kai, two

Pictured, left to right: James Archer with three-month-old Liam, Jack, four, Lauren Archer, 31, and Kai, two

Pictured: Mrs Archer with bags of her belongings on her back, Liam on her front, and two-year-old Kai during their evacuation

Pictured: Mrs Archer with bags of her belongings on her back, Liam on her front, and two-year-old Kai during their evacuation

Pictured: Water piling into the property in Upper Landsdowne on the NSW mid-north coast

Pictured: Water piling into the property in Upper Landsdowne on the NSW mid-north coast

When asked whether they were scared they wouldn’t make it out alive, Mr Archer said: ‘Yeah, for three whole days.

‘I was worried I’d put my whole family in danger.

‘I’m their source of water, power, and warmth in winter, and the generator was out and we had no reception, and I was scared I’d put them all in unnecessary danger – maybe I’d put them in a position they couldn’t get out of.’

The sawmill worker spent days preparing for the evacuation – navigating harrowing conditions to clear a path and get his family to safety.

Pictured: Four-year-old Jack standing on the bank of an overflowing river during their hike out of the property

Pictured: Four-year-old Jack standing on the bank of an overflowing river during their hike out of the property

Pictured: A brideg Mr Archer crafted from spare planks after the original was washed away

Pictured: A brideg Mr Archer crafted from spare planks after the original was washed away 

His 31-year-old wife packed dry clothes for the children, baby bottles, toys, small plastic bikes and enough for for three days into bags, which she carried using a stick balanced across her back and baby Liam on her front.

The family-of-five hiked away from their home in the rain and wondered whether they would ever make it back, or whether the cabin would still be standing upon their return.

Mr Archer said he had never seen his boys behave so well, even when crossing the raging floodwaters of what is normally a pristine creek.

‘We often go off on adventures in the forest and they love it,’ he said.

Pictured: Lauren and James Archer with Liam. The family were forced to abaondon their home amid floods

Pictured: Lauren and James Archer with Liam. The family were forced to abaondon their home amid floods

Pictured: A river on their property in normal conditions

Pictured: The same river during the flood

The floods caused landslides, sent trees crashing to the ground and caused rivers to overflow (pictured)

‘I think they could sense this one was a bit stressful, but they were so well-behaved the whole time, they listened to us and they weren’t scared.’ 

They finally arrived at a neighboring property after an hour-long hike, which was owned by family friends, dropped the children off and began the hike back to collect more of their possessions.

‘The relocation lasted days,’ Mr Archer said.

‘We had to pack up our whole lives – it was exhausting.’

After a few days at their friend’s home, conditions eased and flood waters dropped enough to allow safe passage back to the cabin, but with no roads, each trip had to be done on foot.

The couple decided that Mrs Archer would fly to Queensland with the children to stay with her family while her husband cleared a path back to the cabin.

Pictured: Four-year-old Jack standing on the property during normal weather conditions

Pictured: Four-year-old Jack standing on the property during normal weather conditions

Mr Archer has been working tirelessly to ensure the property is safe for his young family to return (pictured: Mrs Archer with Jack, Liam and Kai)

Mr Archer has been working tirelessly to ensure the property is safe for his young family to return (pictured: Mrs Archer with Jack, Liam and Kai)

Pictured: The Archer family's log cabin. They have added extensions since having three children

Pictured: The Archer family’s log cabin. They have added extensions since having three children

‘We were lucky that there’s no real damage,’ he said.

‘A few leaks in the roof and the whole place smells like mould, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.’

He has been working tirelessly to ensure the property is safe for his young family to return, and credits Mrs Archer for her strength and perseverance during the stressful period.

‘She’s a super mum,’ he said. ‘She’s the hero here and she was amazing.’

To help with the repairs, a family friend created a Go Fund Me campaign.

‘We want to make life easier for James and his family, and give them funds to rebuild their lives,’ the fundraiser read.


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