Daydream Island after Cyclone Ada struck, 1970.
Daydream Island after Cyclone Ada struck, 1970. Daily Mercury Archives

'Complete chaos': New memorial to be created for anniversary

ONE of the worst cyclones to ever hit the Whitsundays will be commemorated with a special service, and a memorial in honour of its victims, on the 50th anniversary.

Cyclone Ada tore through the Whitsundays in January 1970 killing 14 people and wreaking havoc.

Now, the survivors of the small but intense cyclone, that caused significant damage to the Whitsunday Islands and areas between Bowen and Mackay, have banded together to create a lasting memorial befitting of the disaster, and deliver a special service, due to take place on January 18, 2020.

The memorial will be a granite and stone structure erected on the Airlie Foreshore, between the creek and Whitsunday Sailing Club.

The Cyclone Ada Memorial Committee is made up of people who experienced the trauma of the cyclone and feel that this important event in the region's history should be recognised and recorded for future generations.

Secretary Kaye Cronan said the committee had been planning the service and memorial for several years and had been working all through 2019 to track people down.

"A few people have tried to get a memorial up and running - I think the main thing was lack of finance -but we have formed a committee and we were all in Tropical Cyclone Ada, so we have all suffered trauma," she said.

"Houses blew away and there was no counselling in those days, and because of the flooding people couldn't get here to help. You couldn't drink the water - people had to be vaccinated against typhoid - it was complete chaos.

"A lot of people had injuries - Proserpine was cut off by flood water, so people couldn't get to hospital - the doctor had to be helicoptered to Airlie Beach every day to treat people."

Mrs Cronan said more than 100 people had already replied and more were expected to come to the service, from all over Australia.

"I think we will have a minimum of 150 people, possibly even more - a lot of local people will just come."

Following the dedication of the memorial, there will be an informal gathering and a book launch of Cyclone Ada - A Community Remembers at the Reef Gateway Hotel, Cannonvale.

The book contains about 100 stories from people who went through the cyclone.

The memorial has been made possible through funding from Whitsunday Regional Council.

For more information please call Kaye Cronan on 4947 5890 or email .