Past Tsunami Events

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Recent Tsunamis affecting Australia

Records of Tsunamis affecting Australia

There have been over fifty recorded incidents of tsunamis affecting the Australian coastline since European settlement. Most of these tsunamis have resulted in dangerous rips and currents rather than land inundation. The largest tsunami impacts have been recorded along the northwest coast of Western Australia:

  • In 1977 a tsunami travelled inland to a point six metres above sea level at Cape Leveque, WA.
  • In 1994 a tsunami travelled 300 metres inland in the Onslow-Exmouth region of WA.
  • In 2006 a tsunami affected parts of the WA coast, particularly at Steep Point where a tsunami travelled 200 metres inland.

The table below lists the records of tsunamis affecting the Australian coastlines since European settlement. Please note that the list may not be exhaustive. If you have firm evidence to support additional past events to be added to the list, you are welcome to contribute through Feedback.

Records of tsunamis affecting Australia since European settlement
DateAustralian region where tsunami effects were recordedSource RegionComments
May 8-11, 1805NSW (Norfolk Island)UnknownMany houses damaged and one totally swept away
December 31, 1852TASUnknownRemarkable sudden rise and fall of the tide noted at Port Arthur and Hobart
January 23, 1855TASNew ZealandA very sudden rise and fall of the Derwent river noted as far as New Town Bay
February 6, 1858TASUnknownAn extraordinary flow and ebb of the tide noted in New Town Bay
August 9, 1866NSWUnknown
August 15-21, 1866NSWUnknown
August 5-13, 1867NSWUnknown
August 15, 1868NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, WANorth ChileThe ebbing tide reversed and waters returned to Sydney Harbour with great force. Ships swung at anchor and boats washed ashore in Newcastle. Jetty washed away in Long Bay Tasmania
October 16, 1868NSW, QLDCentral Chile
December 24, 1868VICUnknown
August 11, 1869NSWUnknown
August 12, 1870NSWUnknown
October 13, 1874TASUnknownA tidal wave at Port Davey after an earthquake that shook houses
May 5, 1877NSW, QLDNorth ChileA series of waves recorded at Fort Denison, Sydney Harbour
May 15, 1879NSWUnknownA series of waves recorded at Fort Denison, Sydney Harbour
September 21, 1880NSWChileA series of waves recorded at Fort Denison, Sydney Harbour
December 25, 1882TASUnknownFour successive waves with the third being three or four feet high reported at Stanley
August 27, 1883WAIndonesiaResult of Krakatoa eruption
August 28, 1883NSW, WA, TASIndonesiaResult of Krakatoa eruption
January 6, 1885WAUnknown
February 2, 1895NSWUnknownShips in Newcastle harbour dragged their anchors
January 17, 1899NTUnknownA six foot tidal wave noted at Charles point
November 11, 1922NSWNorth Chile
June 26, 1924NSWMacquarie Island
June 17, 1929NSWNew Zealand
February 3, 1931NSWNew Zealand
February 13, 1931NSWNew Zealand
March 2, 1933NSWJapan
April 1, 1946NSWAleutian Islands
September 9, 1948NSWTonga trench
August 24, 1951NSWTaiwan
November 4, 1952NSWKamkatcha, Russia
November 4, 1953NSWSolomon Islands
March 11, 1957NSWAleutian Islands
November 8, 1958NSWSouth Kuril Islands
May 23, 1960NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VICCentral ChileSlight to moderate damage to boats in harbours at Evans Head, Newcastle, Sydney and Eden
March 29 1964NSW, TASAlaskaDrastic alterations in the motion of the tides noted
July 26, 1971QLD, NSWBismark Sea
July 20, 1975NSWSolomon Islands
January 14, 1976NSWKermadec Islands
April 20, 1977NSW, QLDSolomon Islands
April 21, 1977QLDSolomon Islands
August 19, 1977WASunda IslandsLand inundation reported at Cape Leveque, Dampier and Port Sampson
May 8, 1986NSWAleutian Islands
May 23, 1989NSW, TASMacquarie Island
October 19, 1989NSWCalifornia, USA
June 3, 1994WAJavaFish, rocks and coral carried two to three hundred metres inland along parts of the coastline near the Northwest Cape.
May 15, 1995NSWNew Caledonia
December 26, 2004NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WASumatraMajor Indian Ocean tsunami. 35 people rescued from rip currents, boats damaged in marinas (especially in WA, but also including as far as Tasmania), some limited and localised inundation of immediate foreshores in a small number of WA coastal towns.
May 3, 2006NSW, QLD, TAS, VICTonga
July 17, 2006SA, WAJavaAffected parts of the WA coast particularly Steep Point (WA). Widespread erosion, extensive vegetation damage and several campsites destroyed. Evidence of inundation up to 200 metres inland.
April 2, 2007NSWSolomon IslandsDangerous rips and currents reported at Coffs Harbour
July 15, 2009NSW, TASNew Zealand
February 28, 2010NSW, QLD, TASChile50cm wave at Norfolk Island, 42cm wave at Gold Coast QLD, 29cm wave at Port Kembla NSW, and a 28cm wave at Southport TAS
March 11, 2011NSW, TASJapan56cm wave at Norfolk Island, 35cm wave at Port Kembla NSW, and a 23cm wave at Spring Bay TAS. Unusual currents noted at Port Kembla and Sydney Harbour. Several swimmers washed into a lagoon at Merimbula NSW

Tsunamis through history

Destructive tsunamis have occurred in all of the world's oceans and seas. For detailed information on all major tsunami events, please visit the International Tsunami database.