Forces of nature
Stories of heroism, of courage in the face of unspeakable loss, and the rst-hand reports of those caught up in events, captured the hearts and minds of readers whenever the power of natural forces and disasters struck. When Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974, staff photographer Keith Barlow managed to nd the last seat on a Navy plane heading into the disaster zone with medical supplies the very next day. He described the devastation as like Hiroshima and, along with the rest of Australia, could hardly believe the casualty rate was so low. Seventy-one people were killed, and the ensuing evacuation of the ruined city was the largest in Australian history.
Australians reacted generously to the Nine Network Telethon that was underway almost immediately, with The Weekly kicking off the event with a $25,000 donation.
A land of extremes, of raging res, debilitating drought and deluges, Australia has been battered by the ferocious power of nature yet emerged each time resilient. From the Victorian heatwave of 1938 that killed more than 400 and sparked a terrible inferno in which another 71 died, to the Black Saturday bush res of 2009 in which 173 people perished and thousands of buildings were destroyed, The Weekly played a key role in reporting on the events and galvanising fundraising efforts.
Tragedy brought with it tales of incredible survival and resilience, of life triumphing in the face of death. In Newcastle, three days after Christmas 1989, an earthquake killed 13 and attened much of the city, including the Newcastle Workers Club, where nine people died. But the spirit of the tough city, forged in its steelworks, mines and dockyards, shone later that summer at a relief rock concert attended by 40,000 which raised almost $1 million.