Tropical cyclone Barry was the most intense cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria for over a decade. A tropical low developed in the Western Gulf of Carpentia around 2300 UTC 2 January 1996 and reached cyclone intensity at 0000 UTC 4 January 1996. Barry mainly travelled in a northwesterly direction.
Cyclone Barry made landfall around 1100 UTC 5 January 1996 between the mouths of the Staaten and Gilbert Rivers, a stretch of coastline that is sparsely inhabited. The cyclone was clearly visible on radar by combining data from weather watch radars located on Mornington Island and at Weipa. Radar images were available at 10-minute intervals and an accurate track was able to be plotted from 1800 UTC 4 January 1996 up to the time of landfall. The eye passed directly over a professional fisherman's camp, said to be about 4 metres above high water mark, which was wrecked by wind and storm surge. A field survey by helicopter indicated the occurrence of a storm surge of at least four metres which travelled up to 7 km inland, after topping the frontal dunes, in an area south of the Staatan River mouth.
After making landfall, Barry remained a vigorous depression under the influence of the upper trough and moved through Central Queensland. A surface trough extended from the centre to the east coast and was associated with wind gusts to 70 knots as it moved down the coast from Sarina to Hervey Bay. This resulted in pockets of structural and tree damage along this part of the coast along with tides of up to a metre above normal. Wind and rain at Kingaroy from the remnants of Barry on 10 January 1996 are thought to be responsible for the contamination of the peanut crop.