Rains ease, but fears persist over water levels

Areas of eastern Australia hit hardest by the worst floods in decades have finally experienced blue skies, but flood evacuation warnings are still being issued.

Parts of New South Wales have seen almost 1m (3.2ft) of rain, flooding hundreds of homes and severing roads.

Despite the rains subsiding, water levels have not yet peaked in some areas, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Around 18,000 people in NSW have been displaced.

"It is catastrophic in its dimensions," said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Western Sydney was now the "greatest concern".

He said Sydney's largest dam would continue to spill over for at least another week.

"We advise that the rain and flood situation does remain dynamic and extremely complex," Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

Emergency crews had conducted at least 700 rescues and 9,000 insurance claims had been lodged already, he added. More than 2,500 people had applied for financial assistance.

Debris has been seen travelling down rivers, and the NSW maritime agency has put out warnings.

"We urge people to cease all non-essential boating activity while fast moving and potentially deadly debris is flowing through large areas of the NSW river systems and waterways," it said on Facebook.

"The clean-up work will start once the hazardous conditions have eased."