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dc.contributor.authorYates, Mareeen
dc.descriptionIt is 40 years since I experienced the cyclone which devastated Darwin. My remembrances of that time are sometimes clear but at times it seemed that days went missing. It was something which I will never forget and which I recall occasionally especially now with this significant anniversary looming. I also remember the generosity of spirit of Darwinians, their larrikinism, sense of humour, the compassion of all Australians, and the unique experience which I had. Everyone who survived that natural disaster has a unique experience of Cyclone Tracy and many stories have been written but until now I had somehow avoided putting mine down for posterity. I had avoided it deliberately and tried to put it behind me. So after 40 years it is time before my memories diminish further with age. I had just turned 24 when December 24, 1974 found me staying in the northern suburb of Tiwi in Darwin with a girlfriend from Brisbane, Sandy a young single parent who had a job with a federal government department in the city. She had a nine month old baby boy and lived in a highset house. I arrived on her doorstep several days earlier. I had left Brisbane without my partner, Graham who was finishing his PHD in Biochemistry and needed the solitary time to devote to his thesis. I had rather impulsively resigned from my clerical job in the Repatriation Department now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs and had decided to travel through Asia and India, and eventually meet up with Graham after he had submitted his thesis. My intention was to stay in Darwin for a couple of weeks and enjoy the culture and sights and then fly to Dili, East Timor and then on to Bali via Garuda Airlines. Upon arrival in Darwin I settled into Sandy’s house who welcomed me and took me to the local sights, one of them being the Fanny Bay Hotel, a beautifully located hotel overlooking Fanny Bay. After the cyclone the hotel was so badly damaged it was demolished. But for the moment I enjoyed Darwin, walking around the city and towards the old Government buildings near the port of Darwin. The city was lush and beautiful, tropical and humid, and had a multicultural feel with lots of Asian influences which I enjoyed. There were many exotic looking men and women, a veritable melting pot of races. It was truly the door step to Asia which I had anticipated. Everyone was friendly and seemingly happy, and there was a casual ambience to which I related immediately. I also knew another person from Brisbane, “Bub”, a friend of Graham’s from Qld University, who worked as a pathologist at the Darwin public hospital and had a room there. This connection proved to be fortuitous as after the cyclone I became virtually homeless along with thousands of other residents and visitors to the city. The afternoon of Xmas eve found myself and Sandy at the Fanny Bay hotel having a couple of drinks. Everyone was knocking off work, there was a celebratory vibe, and people were getting ready for the coming Xmas festivities. We had been invited to a party and were deciding what to do. The weather was overcast with heavy showers which increased with gusty winds, and the day turned into an evening of powerful wind and heavy rain. We eventually decided after returning home to remain there due to the weather which was worsening, and also Sandy’s reluctance to take her baby out in the foul weather. As the evening wore on the cyclone warnings and sirens were being broadcast over the radio and television with increasing regularity, the wind rattled the louvres and we opened them as advised by the media cyclone warnings, to relieve the air pressure. This advice has since been declared incorrect as it could rip apart a house. This was to prove correct in our case and probably many others who had followed the same advice. We settled in for the night with food and drinks and I hate to say it now but a feeling of excitement at the sheer adventure of the impending cyclone which people had believed would miss Darwin and probably blow out to sea. I was a bit drunk a couple of hours later when we lost power, and Sandy asked me to get the candles from a cupboard above the fridge while she went to the baby’s bedroom to check on him. I was standing on a chair reaching for the cupboard when I heard a huge whooshing noise coming from behind me.en
dc.rightsStoryNT Agreementen
dc.subject.lcshCyclone Tracy, 1974en
dc.titleStory of my experience of Cyclone Tracyen
dc.typeLiterary Worken
dc.description.provenancedonorLee, Beverleyen
dc.description.notesThis story was made as part of the ABC Open and Northern Territory Library Cyclone Tracy storytelling workshop program.en
dc.identifier.addressDARWIN, NTen
dc.relation.incollectionTerritory Times Gone Byen
Appears in Collections:Cyclone Tracy
Territory Times Gone By

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