ALICE SNOOKE

Countryman - - COUNTRY LIFE | MECKERING EARTHQUAKE SPECIAL -

Alice was nine months preg­nant when the quake hit. She was out the back of their home, built in 1904 and about 1.5km from town. She was hold­ing the knob of the back door when the ground started to move.

“I just stood there, I couldn’t move,” Mrs Snooke, now 74, said. “The earth was lit­er­ally rolling. If I had tried to walk, I would have fallen over. I wasn’t scared, that’s the funny thing. All I was think­ing of was our lit­tle girl in her cot in­side. She was hav­ing her morn­ing sleep.

“When the quake stopped, I knew the house had col­lapsed. I couldn’t get to the cot from the back, so I ran around to the front of the house to find some way to get in. Even­tu­ally I de­cided to go through the front bay win­dows, which had im­ploded.

“I could hear the baby. She was cry­ing. I even­tu­ally got to her. She was still in the cot. She was cov­ered in mor­tar, but only had a few scratches.

“It was in­cred­i­ble that she sur­vived. Most of the walls in the house fell over, but the wall next to the cot just crum­bled down.

“I didn’t re­alise it had been an earth­quake. I thought it had been a mini-tor­nado. At that point I de­cided to walk into town, to find a phone box and ring my in-laws to make sure they were OK.

“I got about one-third of the way and a man in a ute came along and asked where I was go­ing. He told me it had been an earth­quake and there was no point go­ing into town be­cause it was de­stroyed. He agreed to drive me back to the homestead. Twenty-five years later, I learnt the iden­tity of the man in the ute. He was a lovely man from Keller­ber­rin. “When I got back I re­alised my hus­band had been look­ing for me and our daugh­ter. He thought we were un­der the rub­ble. Ten days later, I gave birth to our first son.”

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