Ada memorial gathers support
WITH winds of more than 150kmh, Cyclone Ada devastated the Whitsunday community when it crossed the coast late on January 17, 1970.
At the time, Ada caused about $12 million in damage and resulted in the deaths of 13 people.
Given the cyclone’s severe impact, Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has called for a memorial to mark the event.
Proserpine Museum volunteer Peter Harling said he was in support of an official remembrance of Ada.
“Everybody used to talk about ‘before Cyclone Ada’ and ‘after Cyclone Ada’,” he said.
Mr Harling’s wife, Margaret Harling, agreed.
“I think there should be something to tell people what happened,” she said.
Fellow volunteer Bernar- dine Stevens was at home in Proserpine when things really started to kick off.
“The old lady across the road lived in this old house,” she said.
“There was a shed that was more recent and every gust of wind would take off a whole strip of iron.
“All these bits of iron – you could see them fly past our place.”
The aftermath proved devastating, with destruction all around.
“We had no electricity, so you couldn’t do anything,” Ms Stevens said.
“You don’t realise how much electricity helps until it’s gone.”
Ms Stevens said the intense winds stripped trees bare.
“You could just see all these bare trunks,” she said.
“You just wouldn’t believe the wind.”
Gloria Cowan also made mention of Ada in a piece for the Proserpine Historical Museum Society magazine, titled Memories of a Policeman’s Daughter.
“That first morning, Dad told us to stay indoors but we watched from the open upstairs veranda as sheets of iron from the sugar mill were flung through the air,” she wrote.
Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan said a memorial “should have happened years ago”.
“For whatever reason it never did, and I think that’s really disappointing,” he said.
This week also marks five years since the region was hit by the similarly devastating Cyclone Yasi, which made landfall at Mission Beach at 1am on February 3, 2011, as a category five cyclone before moving inland to Mount Isa.
HISTORY: Proserpine Historical Museum volunteers Caroline Leaver, Peter Harling, Gay Gillies and Bernardine Stevens look at old photos depicting Cyclone Ada's impact.