Rebuilding Darwin

Cyclone Tracy not only devastated Darwin but it affected the lives of many people who lived through the cyclone. Many ended up with mental problems, lost relatives, lost property and had to start all over again. A thing called the Darwin relief fund acquired a lot of money from people who donated to the cause. They say this money has never been publicly accounted for  and a lot of it has never been distributed to those who were in need of it. That is really sad for those people. The people of Darwin say the total devastation of Darwin should never have happened because the housing, which was 90% government built should have been cyclone proof and it wasn’t at all.

In February 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced the creation of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, which was given the job of rebuilding the city “within five years”. The damage to the city was so severe that some suggested moving the entire city.  The government insisted that it be rebuilt in the same location. By May 1975, Darwin’s population had recovered , with 30,000 living back in the city. Temporary housing, caravans, hotels and an ocean liner MV Patris, were used to house people, as reconstruction of permanent housing has not yet started.

I really hope Darwin comes back to how it was, I really miss the place and all my friends.

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Footage of the Devastation

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11th January 1975 Keeping track of people

So many of my friends are still waiting to hear about friends and relatives and where they went. i read in the paper today it was the Salvos and the Red Cross helped with this. i heard my gran say “That’s why you always gve to the Salvos and The Red Cross”

The Sun Herald 11/01/1975

The population was evacuated by air and ground; because of communications difficulties with Darwin airport, landing was limited to one plane every ninety minutes. At major airports, teams of federal and territory department officials as well as Salvation Army and Red Cross workers met refugees, with the Red Cross taking responsibility for keeping track of the names and temporary addresses of the refugees. Evacuations were prioritised according to need; women, children, and the elderly and sick were evacuated first.

That was alot of people to keep track of.

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8th January 1975 The Loss of Darwin

It is unbelievable the help that flowed into Darwin. It really shows the true Aussie spirit.

They say the reason there was such total devastation was because of the way the houses and buildings were built. One resident eye witness Kevin Mulcahy reports:

“Debris from destroyed houses lay all over the place and all that was left of most of the houses were the stilts and flooring. Darwin houses were built on steel or concrete stilts with stairs on either side and a laundry in the centre on the ground floor. They were single story with fibro or weather board cladding and tin roofs. The damage was caused mainly by debris flying off one house onto the next and so on like a deck of cards so it was not unusual to see a house at the end of a street almost whole and the rest in various stages of destruction down to the other end of the street. Telegraph poles are made of steel because of termites. Most of these had been bent parallel to the ground. We walked around some of the debris and I saw mattresses, broken furniture, pictures in broken frames but the thing that really got to me was a little girls doll”

Reading that really hit home how sad the situation is.

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2nd January 1975 Photos of the Devastation

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1st January 1975 Cyclone Tracey Devastated Darwin

I have never been so scared in my life. At 10 pm Christmas Eve Cyclone Tracey totally destroyed Darwin. We were evacuated to my Grannies in Sydney after a horrific night spent under the house in the basement. I’m  finding it hard and upsetting to write this so I’ll just post what I read in the papers.

Tracy killed 71 people, 49 on land and 22 at sea, caused $837 million in damage and destroyed more than 70 percent of Darwin’s buildings, including 80 per cent of houses. Tracy left more than 41,000 out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city homeless and required the evacuation of over 30,000 people. Most of Darwin’s population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to the city.

On Christmas Day, the Darwin Hospital treated well over five hundred patients, with 112 of these being admitted into the hospital, and both of the facility’s operating theatres being utilized. The first casualties did not arrive till 7 a.m. because of high winds and severe road conditions in and around the Darwin area.

Approximately 30,000 people were homeless, and were forced to seek shelter in several makeshift housing and emergency centres that lacked proper hygienic conditions. Volunteers came in from across the country to assist with the emergency relief efforts. Trench latrines were dug; water supplies delivered by tankers, and mass immunisation programs begun. The army was given the task of searching houses for the dead bodies of people and animals, as well as locating other health risks; for example, cleaning out rotting contents from fridges and freezers across the city. This was completed within a week. Houses which had been ‘searched and cleared’ had S&C painted on an external wall. The city itself was sprayed with malathion, in order to control mosquitoes and other similar pests.

By 31 December, only 10,638 people (mostly men who were required to help clean up the city) remained in Darwin.

I’m so glad we are safe. We are going to stay with Grannie until our house is rebuilt. Dad has gone back to help with my uncles.

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24th December 1974 9.50pm Celebrating/Worrying

It’s 9pm and we have enjoyed our Christmas Eve dinner with relatives.

The TV has stayed on, they are still uncertain which way Cyclone Tracey is going. We have barricaded our windows, parked the car under the house and fill it with food and water. We have a radio and torches and loads of batteries. A lot of our friends haven’t bothered. Dad said just to be prepared in case.

Hope we can get some sleep the wind is shaking our hou



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