Thursday, January 15, 2015



During Cyclone Tracy 15 people , a ham, a cooked  turkey and a dog spent  the night in a Nightcliff  bathroom. The family which owned the house numbered  four, but were unexpectedly joined  by a family of nine who came  with  the turkey, ham and dog , which howled  throughout the  night . Two other girls also sought refuge. During a lull in the blow, a “save the chooks” party ventured out to collect two fowls  in the stove of  the   nextdoor  house  but  was unsuccessful  because  it  had  been  blown away.


Like so many towns  down the track, the people of the  Tennant Creek mining town  , north of  Alice Springs , helped  evacuees who went south by road. The Peko Clarion reported  that in  the period 26/12/74 to 31/12/74, 5903 evacuees registered at Tennant. Of these, 2071 were supplied accommodation( not including  caravan sites and ovals), 413  trunk calls were made  to friends and relatives  and  $11,000 received in  cash donations  with a  day's pay to come  from mine  workers .


Moonta House in Mitchell Street  was used by southern and overseas media  where Department of NT  PR Dick Timperley was  based. At some stage the Murdoch owned Northern Territory News stopped production due to  damage  at the factory. It was subsequently announced that the morning  paper would become an afternoon production early  in  February.Veteran  journalist  and film producer  Cec Holmes  was in Darwin when the cyclone struck. After speaking to many of the  southern reporters who came  to the city to report on the disaster , he commented   how soft  they seemed to be , complaining  about the heat and conditions . Reporters used to have  a reputation  for roughing it , he added. The new breed seemed soft . One journo contacted  head office  on Boxing Day and asked  them to send water (bang goes the  myth of newspapermen  being hard drinkers ) and  some food.  Five days later  three one gallon containers  of water and two tins of  steak and  kidney arrived  by  air .


The  Clerk  of  the NT Legislative  Assembly, Fred Walker, was holidaying in Honduras , Central America, when  the cyclone hit Darwin. When he went to a hotel  there  the proprietor , learning Walker was  from Australia,  said that a large port  had  been destroyed by a storm in North Australia . What was the name of the port ? Mine host could not remember . Was it Darwin ? Yes ! Fred was later travelling  along a trail in Guatemala when  an American pulled up in a car  and handed him a telegram  from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Bernie Kilgariff ,which read  something like : Merry Christmas. Your house destroyed by cyclone. Son okay. Suggest  you return  to Darwin .