A Survivors Story - Rapid Creek

by Martin

It appears as though most of the story's on this site are fake. Its disheartening because there are many survivors, such as myself, who know Cyclone Tracy is nothing to joke about.


I moved to Darwin, along with my parents, in 1971. We moved several times while we were there (housing prices being outrageously cheap back then) but ended up two blocks back from the ocean in Rapid Creek. When the cyclone struck I was 17 years old. I remember there being very little panic in the days before the storm. The radio told us to anticipate wind gusts of 120km/h, but no one really expected the cyclone to hit since false alarms were all to common back then.

Our house was two stories tall and, from what I could gauge at the time, fairly well constructed. None of us seemed particularly concerned and we all fell asleep early that evening to the thuds of heavy rain on our aluminum roof.

The winds woke me up around midnight. The power had already failed so there was no decent way to see what was going on through my window, so I went downstairs and stood on our back porch to get a feel for the conditions outside. The winds were howling through the trees and tossing branches and small pieces of debris across our yard and into the fence that separated our yard from our neighbors. At this point I was only fascinated by the power of mother nature, completely unaware of the destruction that was about to occur.

My father and mother joined me a few minutes later. The three of us stood outside and watched as my fathers tool shed disintegrated in the heavy winds. The roar of the cyclone began to increase dramatically about an hour later at a time that I would estimate was a little after 1am. We decided that we better get inside to avoid being struck by one of the many deadly pieces of debris that were flying through the air.

We kept thinking that the winds couldn't get any worse, but every minute that passed proved that we were not yet at the height of the storm. We were concerned about the damage that was occurring but unconcerned for our safety until sometime after 2am. Its impossible to describe what happened in words. Within a few minutes the winds suddenly ramped up and soon the entire house was shaking back and forth. We heard a loud popping noise when the windows in the kitchen blew out. We all frantically huddled in the dark bathroom as the winds entered our house and began to tear apart all of our possessions. More windows blew out and soon the door to the bathroom was flapping back and forth violently over the sounds of bookcases and large pieces of furniture being overturned and blown about within our home. The winds continued to increase until the scream was so loud that we had to yell to hear eachother, although for the most part we were too frightened to speak.

The roof slammed up and down a few times and then tore off all in one piece. My father lay his body over my mother and me in the bathtub while one of the walls came in on top of us. I remember finding it hard to breathe under the weight of the wall and thought that my whole family was soon to be dead.

Then the winds died down suddenly. It took awhile before we all felt safe enough to crawl out from the remeians of our home. We could not believe the devastation that we saw around us - with the exception of the bathroom we were in and a few other tattered walls, the entire house had been leveled. We began to pick through the debris, trying to salavage whatever we could, when the winds began again. It makes perfect sense now, but at the time I did not know about the "eye" of a hurricane.

Within minutes the winds became nearly as ferocious ad they had been before. Having nowhere to go, we all crawled out of our house and got into my dads truck. A piece of hit me in the back before I was able to close the door, leaving a bloody gash in my back that still exists in the form of a large scar from my shoulder down to my lower back. In the car we watched as the air filled with flying debris. The car rocked back and forth violently and shuddered every time a piece of debris struck. One of the back windows was broken so we had to endure with the wind and rain as it blew around us.

The winds slowly began to die down after what seemed like a lifetime, and by sunrise the winds and rain had diminished enough so that we were able to leave the car.

All in all, every single house on our block was leveled. I found the body of one of our neighbors among the wreckage of his former two-story home that had been flattened.

The aftermath was terrifying, with no food or water, sop we took the first bus that we could and went down to Perth where I have an uncle.

We never did return to Darwin, and my body still bears the scars of that terrible night. I have moved on and moved from Australia to the states, but I still have nightmares every month or so where I'm back in that bathroom with my parents, wondering whether I am going to live or die.

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Cyclone Trracy
by: Anonymous

Did anyone know the Axam Family who lived in Burden Place, I would love to hear from anyone who knew them.

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Ms Tracy
by: Andy Newall

I too was there we lived in Wells St. and know up until probably the first blow from the cyclone actually hit i was out hooning with my mates, and in my mates dad's car. Funny as it seems I had left my car my adapted EK station wagon at the old Sea breze Hotel (remember) then ventured into the night with the premise of destruction hanging over us nu daunted we attended many parties that were raging that night. I remember my mate saying he had to get his Dads car home before it was damaged so on travelling down bagot rd we encountered many a metal rubbish bin OR lid clanging its way across the road.
Arriving home at i would estimate(memory is fading) around 2am +, wind howling BUT Power still on. I discovered my MUM and Dad fast asleep. When the howl increased to such an extent were the louvers were bending allowing water to blow horizontally across the room I knew it had arrived.
It persisted for how long I'm not too sure BUT at Wells St we did get an eye unlike other areas, I actually ventured outside, it was so eerie absolutely no wind and rain was actually vertical. I remember being told or hearing on the then 8DN if you encounter an EYE do not go outside as it can change without any warning. I remember heed this and getting back inside when the second HOWL began it was very very scary, I was a supposedly a brave,tough 19YO just flew in from Gove where I was completing my apprentiship to have a party or two with my old school mates.
Holy shit did change my life louvers shattering, glass being blown every which way I battled down the hallway to wake my parents, No need they were up and running we headed to the toilet and all three of us and the family pet(dog) squeezed in to this tiny space and watched the proceeding with the aid of lightening flashes as power had well and truelly been doused.
So to all who was there mt thought go out to you where ever you may be now.
Andy Newall

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Ryland Rd, Rapid Creek
by: Anonymous

I hope writing your story has been good for you Martin. I also lived in Rapid Creek and spent the night under a dining room table with my husbaqnd and 3 little kids convinced I was going to die. I don't understand why you think many of the stories are fake. I can't imaging why anyone would want to fake a story. I wish you well Martin. I'm sure the trauma of that night changed us all permanently.

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Gammin
by: William Iles

I was in Darwin for Cyclone Tracy and it was nothing to joke about. I was staying in a 16 foot caravan in Overland Caravan Park.......van was totally destroyed, 2 big 4 foot long metal tool boxes full of Carpenters tools that it took 2 stong men to lift disappeared no laughing matter.
Dad's house in Parap was totally wrecked no laughing matter........it's good to hear from locals who were there if you weren't.............. SHUT UP

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SO FRIGHTENING
by: Phil

I lived in Chapman Rd. in Rapid creek and at that time I was 24 when Tracy hit. IT was the most terrorfying night and time of my life and I do hope it never happens again and I do hope that all who survived that horrible night came through without to many scars, both physically amd mentally.
I was looking to see if there was any events going on for the 40th anniversary but it does not seem to. Best Wishes to all and hope you all have a great 2014 Christmas

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Ryland Rd, Rapid Creek
by: Cathy Eades

Thanks Martin for sharing. I also lived in Rapid Creek and lost everything that night. It is only now, 40 years later while reconnecting I realise just how much that night changed me.. I have cried buckets for me and all other Darwinites who survived that night. I wish you and them a happy Christmas this year. Cathy Eades

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touching
by: Anonymous

beautifully written
so sorry

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Amazing
by: JACK

My dad always tells me about what happened as he was in the navy at the time. His ship only left several days before the cyclone. He always said "I was lucky not to be there on that Christmas" That cause they needed some to return home and some to stay. He left. Lucky he didn't have to go through this nightmare.

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Amazed
by: Anonymous

I am so amazed at the stories that I have read and yours has touched me the most, just thinking it's safe then having to endure that all again. I seriously thing thats amazing well done and our courage to share this story is outstanding God Bless you!!

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Cycone Stories - true or false ?
by: Fay Karamanakis

I feel for you and think that your story is real as myself been twenty years old then with my husband and my three year old daughter and four month old baby girl and was also in Darwin during Cyclone Tracy and lived in the then new suburb of Wagaman in our newly built house that we only enjoyed for three weeks and endured the same as you.

I am also the person who told my story about my dog saving our lives which was only a small part of what has happened to us and it is real.

I feel sad that you think that some of the stories are false. You cannot make such an accusations that they are not true stories, because although you experience the cyclone and were there, you cannot expect that all of the other person?s stories will be the same as yours as it is possible that others had different happenings occur to them.

We were also air lifted to Perth and stayed with my sister and her family for three months until my husband was able to have our granny flat which was under our house that blow all away restored with the help of the army.

Like you my oldest brother that also lived in Darwin and had gone through Tracy who's house also blow away and they all thirteen of them run to find shelter in their car which was park under the house and were lucky to be alive after part of the verandah collapsed on the car hood while they were in side during the second part of the cyclone and he had five small children that had nightmares after that. They were air lifted to Sydney and from there they have gone over seas to live and never come back to Darwin.

I am also writing a book called my experience with Tracy and I have already written 140pages starting from a week before and finishing three month later describing what we had experienced with the cyclone such as the Cyclone and its distractions, search for living relatives and friends, dog shootings, the looting and surviving after the cyclone and rebuilding of Darwin.

We had our house rebuild and still live here in the same address. All I can say is I feel that we must have had a saint look after us that day.

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I'm So Sorry
by: Anonymous

You are a very brave person. i'm learning about cyclones at the moment but i never new it was that bad.i will remember you and all who endured that cyclone this Christmas.

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Cyclone Watch
by: Chloe

I feel for you, that sounds like such a terrifying event to go through. Our town in currently on cyclone watch, it'll probably hit us in two days... so i've been reasearching cyclones - which is probably a bad idea since i'm just getting scared, more scared because i have a baby. I have been told by many people to hide in the bathtub with a mattress over us, so i'll do so if it gets too bad. its currently a category 5!!

Sorry to hear about your neighbour, and I'm glad your family survived the horrible christmas day

All the best

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Cycone Stories - true or false ?
by: Jim - Enjoy Darwin Editor

Editors note;

No attempt is made to verify the personal stories people write for this - it would be impossible anyway.

However it is fairly obvious which authors have information which is not widely known and in all probability were actually present at the time.

Many submissions also come from students doing school projects - some say as much, others write as if they were there. Either way it is good to see young people learning about the real power of nature, especially as they might inherit a climate much more severe than in the past.

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