In 2004 the world experienced a disaster of unprecedented scale when a 9.1-magnitue earthquake off the island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people, including 26 Australians, ranging in age from six months to 68 years. It displaced millions more in 14 countries, from Thailand to East Africa. In response, then Australian Prime Minister John Howard pledged $1 billion in aid funding to help neighbouring Indonesia, where 168,000 people died. It was the largest donation ever made by an Australian government.
Bushfires, the scourge of every Australian summer, burned regularly with terrifying ferocity. In 1939 in Victoria, 71 people died in the Black Friday fires (below). The Weekly’s photographer, Ron Berg, captured the drama of a fire at Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains (right).