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

Cyclone spins up part of our history

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 seven 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 Whakatane 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."