1974 Cyclone Tracy

In 1974 Cyclone Tracy destroyed the City of Darwin in north Australia in a few hours. See a map of the cyclone path, pictures, photos, sound recordings and salvaged objects in the Darwin Museum exibit.

Darwin MuseumMuseum & Art Gallery of the N.T.

It is hard for anyone who was not there at the time to imagine how it must have felt, however the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory has a permanent exhibit which is so realistic it's a bit frightening.

A sheet of galvanised iron still wrapped around a tree in 2012A sheet of galvanised iron still wrapped around a tree in 2012

When you see whole suburbs without a house standing, the magnitude of this disaster hits home.

In 1978 when I arrived in Darwin the cyclone damage was still very visible. The trees had hardly regrown at all, and the remains of houses were everywhere.

It was not uncommon to see debris stuck in trees, like the sheet of iron still wrapped around this tree in 2012.


Damage caused by Cyclone TracyDamage caused by Cyclone Tracy

Wind speeds of 217 km/h registered at Darwin Airport before the equipment was itself blown away and there are estimates of maximum speeds of up to 300 km/h.


Seeing this destruction also brings home another matter - Darwin is a very new city simply because there was almost nothing left standing when Tracy had finished her work.

Photos from pre-cyclone Darwin

With so much destruction of both homes and infrastructure, the population of about 45,000 was reduced to about 10,000 by a mass evacuation of people to other Australian cities. This was organised by Major-General Alan Stretton, Director-General of the Natural Disasters Organisation and Minister for the Northern Territory, Rex Patterson.

Many of the families that left never returned and the rebuilding attracted people from many different places resulting in a young, diverse population who rebuilt the city.

If you are buying a house, setting up a business or simply thinking of moving to Darwin, it is important to understand this because of the effect this rebuilding has had on how this city functions.

After the cyclone building codes were upgraded dramatically to try to prevent such extensive damage next time a cyclone passed by. And the rebuilding was largely done by the NT Housing Commission using only a limited number of designs on a large scale. At one stage nearly 90% of homes in Darwin were owned by either Government Departments or large national companies such as banks


cyclone tracy memorial
memorial plaque

As the (enlarged) plaque says, these steel girders were twisted into these shapes by the force of the Tracy's winds. Set in concrete at the Casuarina College, they remind us of the strength of mother nature. Hopefully the stringent building codes now in place will prevent this happening again in Darwin.

Share your memories of Cyclone Tracy

There is still tremendous interest in the the Xmas event which changed a city and so many lives.

Were you here when Tracy visited? Were you evacuated, never to return, or were you one of the few who stayed to rebuild Darwin as we know it today?

Everyone you meet in Darwin slips the question into the conversation sooner or later, "Were you here...?" If you were, we'd love to read your experience.

See also Cyclone Tracy Stories


Read how Cyclone Tracy changed peoples lives ..

Click the headings to read their story

Cyclone Tracy essay 
hi everyone, I'm writing a paper on how cyclone Tracy changed the face of Darwin and was wanting to know if anyone out here knows where I can get some …

Ammended Darwin flight plan 
24/12/2014, is the 40th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy, it was a significant day for the Top End, the end of the old ways. I had been working for a …

My story of Cyclone Tracey-40 years later 
I was 20 years old looking for adventure and had just moved to Darwin in September 1974 after just coming back from traveling around Europe for a year. …

My Mother Louise the unforgotten Hero  
My Mother Louise the unforgotten Hero with Many Others Where do I start? I know for a fact there were many hero's who can't be mentioned as it is very …

My last memories of Darwin 
I was a Pan American Airlines flight attendent who married a taxie driver in living in Darwin in 1970. We enjoyed the "wild west" feel of the town, its …

Mum, I need to go to the toilet; please mum I really have to go. 
The day had started like any normal day in the tropical city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. Blue skies, not too much humidity to cope …

Deborah Fisher-What ever happened ??? 
My name is Susan Heath and I live in Werribee Victoria. I had a friend name Deborah Fisher and her father was in the RAAF and was posted to Darwin before …

Darwin destroyed? ... an exaggeration 
I was one of the few who slept through much of the cyclone (although awoken at regular intervals by my excitable room mate) and awoke in the morning with …

The Story of Cyclone Tracy 
One Hell of a Storm The Story of Cyclone Tracy was written by Jeff Williams By mid afternoon on Christmas Eve 1974, workplace staff parties were …

Cyclone Tracy Victim 
My experiance of Cyclone Tracy as a 10 year old boy I will never forget!. The noise of the wind plus the sound!. it will stay with me for the rest of my …

What a welcome home after my wedding ..... 
I moved to Darwin in Jun 71, having celebrated my 14th birthday in Mt Isa on the drive from Melbourne, though we were originally from Brisbane. My …

Three Mates 
Rodney, Bob and I were in an elevated house in Wagaman in 1974. On Christmas eve Rodney and I went to the Berrimah Hotel and Bob went his own way. We got …

I wish a cyclone would come! 
My dad and I traveled to Darwin from Adelaide for a two week holiday in August 1974. The drive from Adelaide via the Stuart Highway is a story in itself. …

A Survivors Story - Rapid Creek 
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 …

Serving 'POM' in R.A.F found refuge at 3rd attempt during Cyclone Tracey 
During 1974/5, I was 1 of 4 UK RAF personnel attached to RAAF Darwin. 3 of us were in Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974 and 1 was on holiday in Perth. I …

Assist Darwin - when the call went out  
I was an able seaman on HMAS Vampire and on duty in Sydney when we received a call about the disaster. The NAVY at Garden island was mobilised and due …

Bad Birthday Present 
I had lived in Darwin from March 1969 to December 1970. My baby's father was killed in a car accident on the 21st December 1970. I was 22 years old and …

FIRES AND CYCLONES - UNDERGROUND SHELTERS 
On the question of fire, I have had the experience of coming home from work one day to find my five acre block at Humpty Doo burned out. Another time, …

Baked Beans for Christmas Dinner............ 
Only being 11 years old at the time of Tracy what can I say but what a story of survival i have and the vivid memories that still cloud my mind still after …

my mums ordeal 
its not my story its my mums all she can remember is her mum waking her up and running into the the bath room and the roof being ripped off and stuff like …

What an Interesting Storm! 
I had moved to Darwin from Canberra (Adelaide home city)in July 1974. Working with Doctor Quinn, Registrar of Darwin Hospital at time of Cyclone Tracy. …

it ruined our life 
when cyclone tracey struck, we were devastated. we didnt have insurance, and it clean struck through our house and submerged our car in the ocean. it cost …

My experience with Tracy 1974 
My name is Fay Karamanakis and here is some of my experiances of Tracy Tracy was unbelievable, I am still almost aghast with the memories. My story's …

Cyclone Tracey still haunts me 35 years later.  
I was 13 and living in Moil Crescent, Darwin on 24th December 1974. I remember the day starting off strangely cos there was a cow in our garden, my dad …

Click here to write your own.

He slept through cyclone Tracy! 
Ever since I was young my family would always tell me the story of how my great uncle John slept through cyclone Tracy, I never really took much interest …

Lost friends....and lots of memories! 
I have very fond memories of growing up in Darwin. My younger brother and I lived on the RAAF base, and walked over the Bagot Rd bridge to Ludmilla …

Memmories as a kid  
In 1974 I was only 5 years old and my sister Alice was only 4. We were living in alice Springs and were both born and bred there. My father Dave Baldwin …

cyclone tracy changed my life 
it was a cold and windy day. we were all told that there was going to be a cyclone called tracy. it was wired how people name a cyclones, but i didnt …

Bathtub Saviour 
We spent the night with mother and us two kids in the bathtub with a mattress on top. The roof went, the rain soaked the mattress and it held firm while …

Living in the rebuilt Darwin 
I arrived in Darwin nearly four years after Tracy, just as the Northern Territory became a self-governing territory with it's own Parliament and an optimism …

A night of terror 
As a lot of people on this site, Christmas Eve and Morning 1974 was a memory that I will never forget. My family (George, Nancy, Patricia and myself) lived …

i almost got killed 
I went outside everywhere around looked like a garbage dump it was dreadfell and when i seen what was happening i ran straight back inside and told the …

the day I nearly died 
i was with my dog out side, the winds were already very strong, i looked up and saw a big wind cloud. i quickly ran inside so terified. i wanted tomorrow …

help 
i need a speech a funny speech on what happend in dawin and cyclone tracy can you help me? can you please send me an e-mail on rocky.roxs.puppy@hotmail.com …

Our cat saved us 
Like many people I didn't think Tracy would hit. Even my brother who left about 12 hours before tracy hit said "Don't worry it won't come". Those words …

Missed Tracey by Couple of Days Not rated yet
Mum, Dad, Robyn and I missed Tracey - Thank God, because we were living in a Caravan Park in Nightcliff near the beach cliff Pool which still exists, …

A noisy end to my honeymoon. Not rated yet
On Friday December 13th 1974 I married my husband Harry and we left for our honeymoon in Singapore. We arrived back in Darwin at 5am on Christmas …

Noisy Tracey Not rated yet
Although only seven yrs old,I still remember the events of that "noisy" night. My mum was a rare single mother living in Moil, straight across from the …

Unforgetable christmas Not rated yet
On Christmas eve we had returned from a ESU (now Power and Water) Christmas party. The family were coming to our house in Wagaman for Christmas day. Kids …

Please help me with some Cyclone Tracey infromation. Not rated yet
My Name is Brian Graham, formally Brian Hoff I have started reading the book Warning The Story Of Cyclone Tracey. Author is Sophie Cunningham just published …

Our story of Cyclone Tracy 1974 Not rated yet
We emigrated from the U K in 1969 my husband, one year old daughter and me.. We came up to Darwin in 1970 we then had another daughter...We came for a …

Surviving Cyclone Tracy Not rated yet
SURVIVING CYCLONE TRACY My family and I are from Cyprus and we moved to Darwin in 1969. Cyprus was heading for war so my father decided that he could …

9 year old twins Not rated yet
I was teaching in Budgewoi NSW 1975 and 9 year old twins were sent to stay with their grandmother while their house was rebuilt and services restored to …

Lockwood Houses in Darwin. Not rated yet
We were living in New Zealand at the time of Cyclone Tracy and were just organising to have a house built, a Lockwood House. These houses were designed …

Trebble Brushing Tracy, Larry and Yasi. Not rated yet
I did not have a dictionary at hand as a result I didn't clear the word IMMINENT which the ABC kept using about a Cyclone called Tracy just north of darwin. …

Had to laugh Not rated yet
My story is a humourous one. On Christmas morning I and my boyfriend stood in the ruins of the roofless top floor of the block of flats we were renting …

My first BIG storm Not rated yet
I was 10, with a younger sister and even younger brother. Dad was in the RAAF and we lived on the base with mum and Tiddles the cat. By the time the wind …

Has it really been nearly 36 Years? Not rated yet
In 1974 I was a runaway, only 15 and was living in Darwin with my boyfriend and our mate, we had a room above the local betting shop in Cavanaugh Street. …

A lifetime of Fond Memories. Not rated yet
I remember the rain,wind that screamed,lightning that ignited the sky to reveal cars and other objects flying through the air, which could be seen through …

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Darwin Cyclone Memories Not rated yet
I can remember the rain and very strong winds,in excess of 320kms,which produced a high pitched screaming sound.When the flashes of lightning ignited the …

The end of old Darwin town Not rated yet
I was 13 when Cyclone Tracy struck. I remember there was an air of excitment amongst my friends, we'd never experienced a cyclone before. On Christmas …

What I remember about Tracey Not rated yet
I was only 5 so I dont have the same memories as my incredibly brave parents but here's what I do remember. Going to bed while the party my parents …

Tears in Eyes! Not rated yet
I was in Townsville in 1974, and I remember when it came on the news. I was Born in Darwin June 1966. and every Christmas, I still brings tears to my eyes. …

Camping where houses once stood. Not rated yet
I visited Darwin on a camping Coach Tour holiday to the Top End, several months after cyclone Tracey. On the road leading in to Darwin, all the trees …

My poor dad! Not rated yet
Im 11 and my dad has told me his story. He was 17. He had 2 brothers aged 21 and 19 and a sister aged 11. they were living in Nightcliff when tracy hit. …

My Terrifying Story about Cyclone Tracy Not rated yet
When I was 7 years old, I asked my mother why whenever I visited my Grandma, my Grandfather was never there. All she replied was, "I'll tell you later, …

davenport family Not rated yet
we used to live in darwin for 3 years mum Criss dad Lou Davenport aparently we moved back to England days before the cyclone can anyone remember …

My cyclone tracy story Not rated yet
I was 5 yrs old when cyclone tracy struck.I remember some parts clearly. My mum and my older brother and sister and i went over to our auntys house in …

My daily run... Now, my daily memory.. Not rated yet
Ever since i was young, i loved christmas. All the presents and family gatherings and being able to enjoy the christmas meaning. But then cyclone tracy …

Click here to write your own.


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