Cows washed away as record-breaking floods hit north Australia

Northern Queensland forecast to get heavy rains for a week

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Communities were cut off, farmers stranded and cows washed offshore as heavy rain pelted north-east Australia on Sunday, with one major river breaking 118-year-old floodwater records.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Queensland's Daintree River rose to 12.6 metres – a level not seen for more than a century – and local authorities warned that some residents in remote areas could be cut off for days.

The heritage listed Daintree Rainforest received more than 300 millimetres of rain in just 24 hours and Northern Queensland is bracing for monsoonal conditions for the rest of the week.

Residents in this tropical region of Australia are used to a heavy wet season, but the recent deluge has cut off a ferry line that is the only means of reaching some areas.

Port Douglas Shire Council Mayor, Julia Leu, said those who are still in their homes could be cut off for two days, with no power or phone service.

Meanwhile the conditions have caused havoc for farmers and livestock.

One family of four were stranded on the farm they manage, with live power lines falling into floodwaters.

Local paper Newsport Daily reported the caretakers of the Tranquility farm were stuck with their two children for 16 hours until a state emergency services helicopter could rescue them.

Residents rushed to a downstream beach to help a handful of livestock washed away by floodwaters.

A number of cows could be seen out at sea or struggling to find their feet on the soft sand of the coastline.

While much of the country has been experiencing a brutal heatwave with record temperatures, the Bureau of Meteorology said the monsoonal conditions will not be easing anytime soon, with thunderstorms and rain forecast for the rest of the week.