Historical Impacts Along The East Coast

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Date Description of Impact
24 March 1890 This tropical cyclone crossed coast near Cardwell 24th and recurved over Fraser Island 28th bringing disastrous floods over much of Queensland and northern NSW. At South Barnard Island: two men were drowned when their boat was swept away after losing its jib. The house on the Island was blown down and the wife of one of the men was stranded for 2 days with her 4 children. Two fishermen were drowned.

Cardwell: the winds started 7 pm Sunday 23rd and were at their worst until 7 am Monday 24th . Only 4 houses were left standing, the rest were wholly blown down, unroofed or destroyed. Two Government boathouses were destroyed, the jetty was wrecked, the Schoolhouse blown down, and the Courthouse almost blown away. The tide came up over the bank.

Dungeness: (mouth of Herbert R.) The sea came up high over town and all people left the town. All buildings were more or less damaged with houses and shops blown down and Customs House unroofed. The schooner Mary Ellen was wrecked in the Herbert R. and 4 punts were wrecked. At Halifax a man was killed when a house blew down on him and a man was drowned at Victoria plantation. At Ingham, the Church of England was levelled to the ground.

Townsville: a gale blew all Sunday 24th night until 9pm Monday 24th with 15 small houses wrecked by the wind, 30 homes blown off their blocks, 40 verandas wrecked and 3 or 4 houses washed away. 110 people were homeless with the whole of Hermit Park under water. Heavy seas rolled over the top of the Breakwater which was 1.8 m above high water spring tides. Two boats sank in Ross Creek, the Launch Eleanor was lost, the ketch Snowdrop lost and the Customs launch sank. A man was washed off a cart and drowned and a woman was killed when her house caved in.

Burdekin: 431 mm in 24 hours at Ravenswood. A man drowned at Sellheim, several houses disappeared, a man drowned at Sandy creek and a rescuer drowned.

Ayr: Church razed to the ground and the Police building unroofed. Mackay: man drowned.

Emu Park: Wednesday 26th 381mm in 12 hours and man killed by lightning 6.30 am Wed. Schooner Matha Reid dismasted and captain knocked senseless and thought to have died.

Darling Downs: 2 policeman missing in floods near Dalby and at Roma 100 people were evacuated from floods. Beaudesert: man drowned in creek 28th.

Stanthorpe: Numerous buildings washed away, man drowned and a large number of stock lost.

1 February 1893 This tropical cyclone crossed the coast near Yeppoon, smashing buildings and uprooting trees. The barometer dropped to 969 hPa when the tropical cyclone passed over the Buninyong which was seeking shelter near the Northumberland Island Group. The 225 ton steamer Dickey was wrecked on Dickey Beach Caloundra. The tropical cyclone moved south with Crohamhurst (on Stanley River) recording 907 mm of rain in 24 hours to 9 am on the 3rd Feb. A 15.2 m high wall of water was observed roaring down a Stanley River gorge. More than 150 houses were washed down the Brisbane River. Indooroopilly Railway Bridge and the Victoria Bridge were both washed away. Flood height reached 9.25 m on Port Office Gauge. 7 men drowned in an Ipswich Colliery. 4 children drowned on the 3rd and a policeman drowned in a rescue attempt. On the 4th a man drowned after rescuing his father at South Brisbane. On the 6th a man was found drowned at O'Connell Terrace, a boy drowned at Petrie Terrace, a man was drowned at Rosalie and 2 men were drowned when a punt capsized at West End. On the 7th 2 men were found drowned at the Valley and Bowen Bridge and 3 men were lost when a boat capsized in the Brisbane River. At Maryborough 2 men were drowned and a family missing, believed drowned while trying to cross the river. Unprecedented flooding occurred at Maryborough where the Mary River Bridge washed away. The river peaked at Maryborough at 4 pm on the 5th with more than one hundred and 130 families homeless after their homes were swept away. Numerous houses were also washed away at Gympie leaving a large number of families homeless. There were other deaths in outlying areas.
12 14 February 1898 This cyclone of monsoon origin tracked from the continent over Brisbane and down the NSW coast. The bar (at sea level) in Brisbane at 4pm Sunday 13th was 997.7 hPa. The brig Amy (220 tons) after leaving Woolongong at 9 am 14th was driven ashore near Bulli and the crew of 8 all drowned. Another man died on the beach from shock. The brigantine Malcolm foundered at Bulli and the crew of 6 hands were lost and 150 m of the Bellambi jetty was washed away. The ship Atocama was abandoned on the 12th 500 nm off the coast and the Captain and 3 of the crew were saved but 13 of the crew were lost at sea. The Schooner Mary Peverill was beached in the Whitsunday Passage though the crew survived. 2 men drowned at Bungendore (near Canberra) in floods on the 15th. In Sydney trees were uprooted, verandas were carried away and the ferries were suspended. The yacht Greyland was capsized in the harbour. There were 30 known deaths associated with this event.
21 January 1918 This tropical cyclone crossed the coast just north of Mackay. The lowest pressure of 932.6 hPa was recorded at 7.30 am 21st by a private observer (T. Croker) about 5 km from Mackay north of the river. Before the reading the winds were cyclonic south-easterly then there was a sudden lull and the winds turned northerly in a very short space of time the winds reached cyclonic strength.

The Post Office barograph fell to 944.8 hPa at 4am 21st but was prevented by the flange from falling below 944.8 hPa. The wind changed from the southeast to the north around 8am 21st with no abatement and increased in violence. The Harbour and Rivers Engineer's to Parliament stated that the cyclone was accompanied by an elevation in sea surface in the form of a wave which at Mackay slowly rose for about an hour reaching a height of 2.36 metres above the highest spring tide level. Hardly any building in Mackay escaped damage and a thousand were destroyed. Three steamers were sunk and three were grounded. The cyclone brought a 3.6 m storm surge into Mackay. An account by a Miss Morton stated that the tidal water reached her house at 4.45 am and she drifted on floating debris until 8.50 am. One observer saw a wall of water 7.6 m high sweep over the beaches towards the town at 5 am 21 January at the height of the cyclone. In 1987 a survivor recalled seeing waves 2.4 to 2.7 m high breaking in the centre of Mackay. Severe storm surge damage was also experienced at Slade Point, Blacks Beach and Eimeo Beach north of Mackay. The cyclone was very large in size and destructive winds extended down to Rockhampton with the worst damage occurring after the winds shifted from SE to NE. Trees were uprooted including large jacaranda trees. Many houses had verandas blown off and lost portion of their roofs. Two men were drowned at Rockhampton. At Yeppoon, a man drowned, trees were uprooted, three buildings were badly damaged or unroofed and several houses were lifted off their blocks. At Emu Park many houses were badly damaged and the fishing suffered severely. At Mt Morgan roofing iron was lifted off buildings and at Clermont thousands of trees were uprooted along all the surrounding roads and buildings lost roofing iron. Widespread flooding occurred in Central Queensland including a record flood at Rockhampton with widespread property damage. In Mackay the death tally was 20 on the 31st January 1918 and it is now though that a total loss of thirty people lost their lives in the cyclone and the subsequent floods in Central Queensland.

10 March 1918 This tropical cyclone is widely regarded as the worst cyclone to hit a populated area of Queensland. It crossed the coast and passed directly over Innisfail. The pen on the Post Office barograph was prevented from registering below 948 hPa by the flange on the bottom of the drum. A pressure of 926 hPa was read at the Mourilyan Sugar mill at 7 pm on the 10th March. In Innisfail, then a town of 3,500 residents, only around 12 houses remained intact, the rest either blown flat or unroofed following the passage of the cyclone eye around 9 pm. A report from the Harbours and Marine engineer indicated that at Maria Creek, the sea rose to a height of about 3 m above high water (which is a height of 4.65 m above the normal tide levels for that day). Around 4:40 pm on the 10th March, a tidal wave was seen surging in from the east into Bingil Bay, taking the bridge over the creek 400 m inland. Mission Beach was covered by 3.6 m of water, extending hundreds of metres inland, with the debris reaching a height of 7 m in the trees. All buildings and structures were destroyed by the storm surge in the Bingil Bay to Mission beach area. The storm surge was 2.6m at Flying Fish Point. Babinda also had many buildings destroyed and some reports suggest that not one building was left standing. There was widespread damage at Cairns and on the Atherton Tablelands. Recent reports suggest that 37 people died at Innisfail while 40 - 60 lost their lives in nearby areas.
9 February 1927 This tropical cyclone crossed the coast just to the north of Cairns. The lowest pressure reading at Cairns was 971 hPa. Many buildings were unroofed or damaged and 16 were totally destroyed. The hotel and several houses at Malanda suffered considerable damage. The sea wall at Cairns broke in several places. The tropical cyclone weakened into a disastrous rain depression. Unprecedented floods occurred in North Coast Rivers. Halifax, Ingham, Innisfail and Tully were partly submerged. Many people drowned including 23 at Ingham, 15 at Cardwell and 1 at Townsville. 2,500 cattle and 1,500 horses drowned at Ingham. Losses to crops, stock and property in the Herbert region reached £300,000 (1927). Several washaways of railway line and bridges occurred. The system also caused flooding in the south of state, with the town of Surat under water and a drowning fatality at Toowoomba. 7 people were also drowned near Miles and crops in West Moreton were badly damaged. A large dam at Koorboora was wrecked. A total of 47 people lost their lives.
12 March 1934 This tropical cyclone crossed the coast near Cape Tribulation with a 9.1 m storm surge at nearby Bailey Creek destroying banana plantations. The Pearling fleet just off the coast near Cape Tribulation was devastated with many luggers and 75 lives lost . Banana plantation settlers in the Cape Tribulation area stated that the centre of the cyclone was over Bailey's Creek where huge trees over a metre across were snapped like carrots. The plantations were destroyed and the worst damage was in a six mile wide swathe. The damage extended from Bloomfield to Snapper Island. At Daintree the bar dropped to 978 hPa at 10 am 12th and by 12.30 pm huge trees were snapped and all vegetation was defoliated. Three houses were totally demolished, one house had the veranda torn off, one house was torn in half and one half blown away, another house was lifted and turned upside down and the sawmill was unroofed. At Mossman the cyclone struck at 10am 12th and a hotel lost its balcony and main roof. The front veranda of a café was torn off and its windows smashed. Windows of the Post Office were smashed. Roads were strewn with iron timber and other debris. At Mossman Beach a number of houses damaged and one house was lost to the sea. Not much damage at Port Douglas though there was a 1.8 m storm surge there. At Cairns limbs snapped from trees and a large tree was uprooted however most damage was from huge seas which damaged rowing boats beached along the Esplanade. Rail services were cut by floods between Cairns and Innisfail. Large washaways on the Cairns to Mossman road by landslides and huge seas.
2 - 3 March 1949 This tropical cyclone made landfall passing over Gladstone and Rockhampton. Widespread damage to 15 towns in the region and 4 deaths. The barometer in Rockhampton dropped to 960 hPa and the maximum wind gust on the anemometer was 87 knots. In Rockhampton 1000 houses were damaged, 500 were wrecked and 2 men were killed. There were severe floods in central Queensland where 3 drovers drowned.
20 February 1954 This tropical cyclone crossed the coast at Coolangatta with a recorded pressure reading of 973 hPa. Some reports from the Coolangatta/Tweed Heads area had pressure readings to 962 hPa. The worst damage in that area occurred around Cudgen in New South Wales where some houses were blown apart and trees more than 1 m in diameter were twisted out of the ground. A record pressure reading of 982.7 hPa was recorded at Brisbane. Widespread structural damage occurred along the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and around Brisbane. A 0.64 m storm surge was recorded on the Moreton Bay tide gauge, however conditions were much worse on the foreshore with boats in the tree tops at Beachmere. Waves at Kirra brought 2 m of water onto the highway, picking up cars. 900 mm of rain was recorded at Springbrook in the 24 hour period up to landfall. Floods, combined with storm surge on the Nerang River caused the evacuation of several families and a dramatic rescue of people from Macintosh Island. The floods and cyclone then hit the Lismore district, with gales whipping up large waves on the then 11.3 km wide Richmond River. 26 people tragically died from these unprecedented effects.

28 - 30 January 1967

Dinah developed in the central Coral Sea and tracked southwest before recurving just off the Queensland coast between Gladstone and Bundaberg. The system caused severe damage at Heron Island initially from inundation from large NE swells and then a day later from winds. As it passed over Sandy Cape, a central pressure of 944.8 hPa was recorded and high water rose to 10 m above normal levels. Although the system remained off the coast, winds caused damage along the coast between Rockhampton and Grafton. Many trees were blown down and houses in the Bundaberg, Maryborough, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast areas were unroofed. Banana and cane crops were severely damaged on the Tweed Heads Coast and a severe wind gust overturned a car at Evans Head. Huge seas and storm surge caused severe erosion at Emu Park, Yeppoon and in the Maryborough to Bundaberg area. Storm surge inundated cane farms at Bli Bli and produced knee deep water levels in Hastings St Noosa. In the Sandgate area, seawater 1.5 metres deep inundated houses. More than 100 homes were flooded and at Cribb Island 1 house was washed into the sea. Storm surge also affected the Gold Coast with water lapping on the decking of the Jubilee Bridge which is about 1.5 metres above highest astronomical tide. A section of the esplanade collapsed at Surfers Paradise. A similar storm surge occurred on the Tweed River isolating Fingal.

17 January 1970

This small tropical cyclone passed through the Whitsunday Island Group and crossed the coast at Airlie Beach with a recorded central pressure of 962 hPa. The eye of the system, observed by radar, had a diameter of 20 km. 14 lives were lost, tourist resorts were destroyed and 80% of the buildings at Airlie Beach were badly damaged. Sea water inundated many Airlie Beach shops. Severe flooding occurred from Mackay to Bowen with major floods in the Pioneer and Don Rivers.

24 December 1971

Althea crossed the coast just north of Townsville with a 106 knot wind gust recorded at the Townsville Meteorological Office. 3 lives were lost in Townsville and damage costs in the region reached $50,000,000 (1971). Severe winds damaged or destroyed many homes (including 200 Housing Commission homes). On Magnetic Island 90% of the houses were damaged or destroyed. Tornadoes damaged trees and houses at Bowen. Major flooding occurred in the Burdekin, but coastal floods were short lived. A 2.9 m storm surge was recorded in Townsville Harbour, with a maximum storm surge of 3.66 m recorded at Toolakea, just to the north of Townsville. The storm surge and wind generated waves, although occurring at low tide, caused extensive damage along The Strand in Townsville and at Cape Pallarenda.

24 January 1974

Wanda was a weak cyclone when it crossed the coast near Maryborough.

The winds associated with the system reached their peak in the night after landfall, with Tewantin and Caloundra recording 50 knot easterly winds and Cape Moreton averaging 56 knot easterly winds. Torrential rain followed, and in the 5 days to 9 am on the 29th of January falls reached 900 mm in the Brisbane area. Mt Glorious recorded 1318 mm. The Bureau of Meteorology's observation site in Brisbane recorded 314 mm in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 26th January. The 1931 flood levels were exceeded at 9 am on the 27th January. Heavy rain in the 24 hours to 3 pm on the 27th of January caused the major flood. In the Brisbane and Ipswich region 6007 houses were flooded, 56 of these were destroyed or condemned. Damage costs on the large scale were $200,000,000 (1974). 12 people drowned in Brisbane and Ipswich, and several elderly people suffered fatal heart attacks while being evacuated. Major floods also affected the Gold Coast and northeast New South Wales. 700 people were evacuated from caravan parks at Broadbeach. About 1000 people were evacuated from the Gold Coast canal estates of Miami Keys, Moana Park, Rialto, Mermaid Waters, Florida Gardens and Burleigh Waters. Houses were inundated with water up to 1.5 m deep. Evacuations also occurred along the coastal strip at Surfers Paradise where waist deep water flooded streets near the river, Miami, Nobby's Beach where water came up to window sills and to the tops of caravans and Bundall Road Southport where floods spread over the Isle of Capri and Sorrento. Evacuations were carried out at Biggera Waters, Hollywell and Paradise Point. 200 people were stranded on Hope Island and Nerang was completely isolated. A total of 2500 Gold Coast people were evacuated. The Nerang River rose to a record level of 9.91 m. Heavy swells caused severe beach erosion along southern Queensland and northeast New South Wales coasts. The South Nobby recording station recorded significant swell heights to 4.5 m. The maximum storm surge associated with Wanda was 1.0 m between Noosa and Double Island Pt.

17-21 March 2006

Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry crossed the tropical north Queensland coast near Innisfail during the morning of 20 March, 2006. Major damage to homes and other buildings was caused by Larry as well as extensive damage to local crops. Larry reached Category 5 for a time just before landfall.

Larry damaged around 10000 houses in the area around Innisfail with the worst town affected being Silkwood with 99% of the houses damaged. Examples of the extreme wind damage were 4 high voltage transmission towers blown down along the Palmerston Highway and another north of Babinda. An Australian record wind gust of 293.7km/h was recorded on the eastern slope of Mt Bellenden Ker from a C.S.I.R.O. anemometer. Very large storm surges (debris lines to 5 m above Mean Sea Level) were measured in the Bingil Bay area.