Cy­clone spins up part of our his­tory

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

AN un­for­get­table mo­ment in our his­tory, Cy­clone Ada re­mains a re­minder of the fe­roc­ity of Mother Na­ture.

Much has been writ­ten about the tragedy, from the weeks af­ter the cy­clone struck to the present day.

The Proser­pine Guardian from Fri­day, Jan­uary 23, 1970, speaks of de­struc­tion, in­jury and heavy rain­fall.

An ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Large Area of De­struc­tion” details the har­row­ing event.

“At the height of the cy­clone, back­yard E.C.’s were blown into heaps of rub­ble,” it reads.

“Sheets of roof­ing iron were tossed through the air un­til wrapped around poles, fences or houses.

“Houses were to­tally, and count­less oth­ers par­tially, un­roofed, leav­ing in­hab­i­tants and their fur­ni­ture un­pro­tected from the el­e­ments.”

The Mackay Daily Mer­cury from Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 21, details the mount­ing death toll, which had by this time reached seven con­firmed dead.

“Last night three peo­ple were still miss­ing,” the re­port reads.

“Po­lice are al­most cer­tain one is dead, and have grave fears for the safety of the other two.”

These fears proved ac­cu­rate, with the fi­nal death count climb­ing to 14.

A re­port from two days later doc­u­ments the search for the now fa­mous Whakatane, a trawler that was sunk with se- ven on board.

“On board were the owner, Mr. D. Ryan, his wife and three chil­dren, the skip­per, Mr. Colin Clarke, and a deck­hand, Mr. W. Howard,” the ar­ti­cle says.

“The trawler left Mackay for Townsville at 5.30am on Satur­day and has not been re­ported since she was off South Molle Is­land on Sun­day.”

The Mackay Daily Mer­cury on Jan­uary 26 re­ports the trawler’s wreck be­ing found.

“There was no sign of any of the seven peo­ple aboard Wha

katane which dis­ap­peared dur­ing Cy­clone Ada last week,” it reads.

The Marine Crew were hit hard­est by the cy­clone, with the sur­vivors hav­ing re­united at the Reef Gateway Ho­tel at the week­end.

Lo­cal his­to­rian Ray Black­wood, who de­tailed the events of Ada in his book The Whit­sun­day Is­lands: An His­tor­i­cal Doc­u­men­tary, said Ada was a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod in the re­gion’s his­tory.

“The fact that there were 14 deaths was way out of pro­por­tion, it was quite a dra­matic oc­ca­sion re­ally,” he said.

Mr Black­wood, who at­tended the week­end’s re­union, said it was good to meet the peo­ple he had writ­ten about.

“Kaye (Cronan) was very lucky to es­cape with her life be­cause she fell through a win­dow on the boat,” he said.

“Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral cy­clones and hur­ri­canes my­self, it’s a very dev­as­tat­ing pro­ce­dure, very fright­en­ing.”

WRECKED: Lo­cal his­to­rian Ray Black­wood with the re­mains of Jane in Stone­haven, Hook Is­land. Photo cour­tesy Proser­pine Mu­seum.

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