50 years after the storm struck, Glenda Vickers reveals a special handwritten poem written by her mum Margaret Tappenden that reflects on Cyclone Ada.
50 years after the storm struck, Glenda Vickers reveals a special handwritten poem written by her mum Margaret Tappenden that reflects on Cyclone Ada.

Powerful words: Daughter shares late mother's poem about Ada

SURVIVORS of Cyclone Ada remember the terrible day it struck, on January 17, 1970, in different ways.

One survivor chose to put her thoughts and feelings into a poem, written by hand more than a decade after the fateful weekend.

Following the 50th anniversary of Cyclone Ada, last weekend (January 17 and 18) the author's daughter, Glenda Vickers, wanted to share the poem with others, more than 30 years after it was written.

"My dear mother, Mrs. Margaret Tappenden, who passed away in 1989, wrote a lengthy poem, three pages long, about Cyclone Ada, at some time in the mid 1980's," Mrs Vickers, who is an arts teacher at Whitsunday Christian College, said.

"Mum's poem is in handwritten form, just as she wrote it, with several writing changes and inclusions! She was a schoolteacher at Proserpine State School, Proserpine State High School and St. Catherine's School (now St. Catherine's Catholic College).

"She is still remembered fondly by her students, who live in the Whitsundays today, as well as numerous residents. Mum was also a teacher-librarian, a published poet and a literary award recipient."

An excerpt from the poem reads as follows:

Two hundred years had passed since James Cook's time

In Winter's clear weather with gentle breeze

But Nature shows her scorn for Man's content

A cyclone, code named Ada, proved that truth

Ignored at first as but a tropical low

A 'flea bite' dubbed by Brisbane's weather bureau

Her winds not auguring threat to coastal strips

She pounced to prove those meteorologists wrong

Late to be classified as 'small' cyclone

Swift Cyclone Ada thundered down the coast

Her winds the worst recorded in Queensland.

Of Whitsunday's resorts it took its toll

Its violence unsuspected till it swung

Southwest to scuttle Shute Harbour

To lay waste close inhabited Airlie Beach

Before it sped in teeming haste to Proserpine

To devastate that populous prosperous town

With torturous winds before destructive floods.

Glenda was 13 years old when she went through Cyclone Ada, in Proserpine, along with her mum, dad and two sisters, aged 11 and six. She remembers the day well.

"I went to the Eldorado Theatre, in Proserpine, to see a movie with some other teenagers - it was just another, regular Saturday night," Mrs Vickers, who now lives near Laguna Quays Resort, in Midge Point, said.

"My parents had been to a wedding at the RSL Club and my father came to pick me up - it was perfectly clear when we went into the cinema but when we came out it was teeming with rain.

"We went to bed as normal and I remember waking up at 2am and hearing the wind and the roar - the noise was incredible.

"Things were wacking the house and we were hanging onto the casement widows and our arms were getting sore. Dad was fearful that if they went, we would be in real strife.

"We used every single towel and sheet in the house to mop up the water coming in through the windows.

"When we looked out the window the next day, we could see all the outhouses bobbing around in the flood waters."