Lists (None yet)

Login to create lists

Tagged (None yet)

Add Tags

Comments (None yet)

Add New Comment

1 correction by timgt - Show corrections

DISASTROUS CYCLONE             AT ROEBOURNE. WHOLESALE DESTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS AiND LIVE STOCK. .i'om our own Correspondent. The new and rising settlements on our North West Coast, have been visited by a storm, which, for the length of its duration. the violence of its force,' and the destruction it has wrought upon private property, has been certainly without parallel in the shqrt history of these settlements, Itisnext to. impossible for any one who did not actually experience its effects to form a correct conception of its fearful fury. ~or my part, though I have witnessed, in yvaious parts of the world, and both - by land and sea, somestorms of magnitude, yet do I remember none, even in the West Indies, of rage so dire as the hurricane which swept over us at IoebourAe on the 20th of last month. When the storm had blown itself out, what had been Roebournetwas a wreck. Not a building was. left sta ning. The day after the gale, as I l6oked" from Mount Welcome over. what had been the ,, could only distinguish the situations of the various stores, houses, and public build-. ings, by the shapeless masses of ruins which marked the spots where they had b.ood the pre. vious day. This storm took us, we may say,. completely by surprise. We. had had heavy but steady rains for some weeks before the" 20th " March ; butthere were no atmospheric indica tions of the approaching storm. At theResidency. the barometer, even did not indicate a blow, and I belieyeit stood as high on the morning of .the 20th, as it had averaged for weeks previously; b5ut during. the storm it fell considerably, register ing, I believe, when Mr. Sholl last saw it at about 6. o'clock in the, evening, 28:96, On thel nightof tile 19.Ith.he.wid was blowing. pretty steadily from the eastward, and rain fell heavily during the night but moderated towards. morning. At 10a.m. op the 20ththe wind was coming iu. strong from the S.EI accompanied by heavy rains. For abogt six hours the storm in qreasedin violence; it then, seemed to. lull for, about an hour, when it burst upon us again with redoubled force, (and 'with an accompani nrent of thundgr and lightning)? increasing in fury until every building was% levelled with the. grodnd. Most of the overthrows took: place at, about-the same time, namely between 6.30 and 8 p.m. Had the inhabitants been surprised in, their beds, numbers must have perished without hope of succour. As it is, it appeaKs. mjracplo.s, to me theat te casualties, are so few.. None. og, then prvyed fatalat least in, the towns, and thpre. is only one caseof supposed loss of life amongi the aqcidents which happened to the bpats, bui of that more anon. I believe that the building which was.the.first, to fall, was that which comprised the Court House and Post Office. This buiiding, was, levelled with the ground. Its roof was. carried; fully 50 yards away from the ruinby th wind. The Court house was floored with. mahogony, inch boards.: Some timber falling.upon a deal topped table, drove one of its legs right through, the boarding. Shortly before the building fell, Mr. Sholl was inside the office. Finding it un safe to remain there longer, he left it and crawled. - to the Residency, a substantial twelve roomed; house, built of sundried bricks. Here he found, Mrs. Sholl and the children, and just as he ar rived the roof of the building was carried away. The walls of the Residency were rocking so, fearfully that they all had to seek shelter in a a small frail wash-house adjdining. Here they: were in such imminent danger, from timber. falling all round them from the principal, build. ing, that Mr. Sholl with the children went with: much difficulty towards the offices, whose walls' were still standing, and got under their lea. Scarcely had they arrived there when the offices. fell, some of the debris striking Mr. Sholl and' stunning him. Charles Sholl, a little fellow. about 8 years old, was being helped by a native. to aplace of sheiter. The native, was thrown down by the wind, and loosed the boy, who was. struck by a piece of timber carreering along on the wind. His leg was broken and. he was, I hear much injured. Whehnbr. Sholl recovered consciousness he endeavoured to retrace his way to the.wash-house. In this attempt he was un successful, being caught by the wind and blown with violence against a rock, which he seized, and with considerable difficulty managed to work round it and take shelter under its lea. Here he remained for hours, until a lull in the tempest enabled him to get back to his wash house which he found in ruins, with Mrs. Sholl and one child under their shelter. One of, the walls in falling had met a partial support from a large box, and in the haven thus created by the storm itself, Mrs. Sholl found refuge. The whole of the Residency is an utter ruin. Its roof was blown to pieces, carried away in masses by the furious wind to a distance of 50 yards or more from the house. The Police Station and the Government Store-Room were also unroofed and blown down.

A large substantial private house belonging to Mr. Brown, and only recently furnished, was unroofed and levelled with the ground. Mrs. Brown was slightly hurt, and with her children narrowly escaped destruction. Mr. Browni's horses were lost. The Public-house of Messrs. Lewis and Spencer, built of Egyptian bricks and roofed with thatch, was first blown to atoms by the wind and then washed away by "he flood. The Arden River had risen, and the waters rushed through the house, carrying away the falling walls, the furniture, and sundry barrels of beer, some of which latter were dis covered afterwards on the plains at a distance offive miles from the house. A new stone house, only recently completed, belonging to and occupied by Mr. Withnell was blown down. Mrs. Withnell finding that the house could not stand against the fury of the gale, collected her children and took them out f doors. She returned to the house for some clothing. Hardly had she entered when a part. of the roof fell, and blockaded her in her room. She broke open the window, cutting her wrist. badly in her frantic efforts, and escaped. A - wool press was blown down, and the stock yard was much damaged. In the store occupied by Messrs. McRae & Co., a stone building roofed with thatch, and adjoining Mr. With nell's house, the roof was carried away, the wall at the east end was blown to the ground, and Messrs. Fauntleroy and Ralston, escaped from the ruins as best they could in time to ren. der some assistance to Mrs. Withnell. Mrs. Fisher, who had only been confined a day or two before the storm, was lying in a pre. carious state in her weather-boarded house. The wind passed that way and unroofed the house, which it turned and twisted round. The top of the iron-bedstead on which she was lying saved her life, by supporting a portion of the roof which must otherwise have fallen upon her and caused her death. All through that fearful night Mrs. Fisher and her child were exposed to the rage of the storm. Need I say that the child did not survive its horrors. Mr. and Mrs. Miles had to run from their cottage for their bare lives, and take shelter under the lea of Fisher's ruins. Their cottage was literally blown into the air. Some dresses and other articles of clothing were whirled three miles away.- Your readers may difficult to believe a fact which I have to relate. A, bag of shot, weighing 281bs was taken up frorn,

.the floor by the gait sad hurled to a distances of 50yarde u A large house of Mr. Padbury's, at that time occupied by Mr. Davis as a boarding-house, was blown down, and several of its inmates were nearly smothered. One native boy had his arm broken in two places, and his face badly gashed. An old seaman named Reilly, was buried alive and had to be dug out. Mr. Stewart'i unfinished public house, which, by the way, was burnt down two years ago, stands at the foot of Mt. Welcome, half a mile from the river; but the river rose to within a few yards of the house. The roof of galvanlised iron was carried, part of it to the top, and part of it over the hill, Empty casks were blown about like feathers. Some timber joists in falling tapped the rum which, to the tune of £100, soon became rum and water. The kitchen was unroofed; a man ~of the name of Jones was hurt; the furniture was smashed to stoms. But ruins proved convenient sometimes. Peo. pie sought refuge under their lea, on the same principle as the sailor in action slipped his head through an aperture made by the enemy's shot. He said that no two shot ever struck exactly in the same place. So people in. Roebourne seemed to think that when the windhad done its worst to any particular building they were safe in the neighborhood of the ruins. I noticed the inhabitants of English's unroofed and totter ing domicile, located in comparative comfort amidst the wreck of Stewart's kitchen. Here were also several women and children. From what I observed of the storm, it was evidently one of those semi-tropical cyclones, which are to be expected in these latitudes at certain seasons of the year. It set in from the 8. E., increasing in fury as it veered towards the E. and N. E, At this latter point it lulled slightly, but only to burst out with fresh fury as it travelled northward. Here it gradually abated as it continued its rotation to the West, from which quarter the wind blew for some time still with great force, but gradually mo derating in its fury as it slowly veered to the South. By eight o'clock in the morning of the 21is, the gale, which had then lasted for 24 ho?ars, had completely died away. During its duration the rain descended, if you can call it descending when it appears to be whirled along in masses of water parellel with the earth, in copious torrents. Call it descending rain or anything else, it got down somehow, as the flooded plains and overflowing rivers testified only too plainly, From all the outstations I have received the most disastrous tidings, I hear of great loss on the Nickel River, Here Mr. McLeod was in charge of a station? of Mr. Venn's. The river rose and floodedthe whole place, carrying away upwards of 2,000 sheep, which were collected ready for dipping, two ration teams, with their horses, and two large tanks each full, and esti mated to contain each 400 gallons.. The sheep, carts, and six horses, were carried down to Nickol Bay; and a few days after the storm the tanks were found, quite six miles frow the station, buried in the sand among the mangroves on the seabeach, Four men on this station es caped indeed "with the skin of their teeth." They gained the stump of a tree and held on. to jt, like grim death to his prey, from midnight till the cessation of the gale. Mr. McLeod, while going to the hut to try to save some flour for himself and these men, was blown away in the direction of the river. Within a very few yards of the flooded river he lay for a long time with his feet and hands dug desperately into the yielding sand. Rather an unpleasant fix for Mr. IMcLeod, but his pluck and. strength saved his life. On another station of Mr. Venn's on the Maitland River, about thirty miles .to the westward of Roebourne, a number of horses and cattle, and 60 ewes, were swept away by the flo(ds.

Mr. Mcl~ay's station on the Maitland was also swept clear by a fearful flood. The masses of water which came down the river could not escape ps the bed of the river runs through a narrow gorge in a hilly country. Consequently the water rose to a fearful height, and carried off from fifteen to seventeen hundred sheep and lambs. Mr. McKay's house and all it contained were served in the same summary fashion b3 the intrusive waters. Two native women were drowned and the body of one of them was re. govered several miles down the stream. The stations on the Fortescue escaped un, injured; the gale does not appear to have exten, ded westward any farther than the Maitland River. The stations on the DeGrey to the East. wird were al-o on the outside ot the track fol. lowed by the storm. Thus We have positive prof that the p:Lth of the cyclone did not ex ceed 120 or 130 miles in breadth. 'the house oi Mr. Locke Burges' station at Andover was blown down; the plains -were flooded ; 300 wethers, several head of horses and cattle were destroyed. Mr. Hancock, who was in charge, and his wife, each witha child in their arms, and almost without clothing had to escape from the falling house and find shelter under the lea of its ruins. Twenty miles from Roebourhe, on the Arden River, is Mr. Hicks' station Coupouyou. About six miles from his house this river, like the Maitland near Mr. MlcKay's, flows through a narrow g rge. When the floods came the swollen water had no egress in that direction, the water rose to a height of 7ft. in Hicks' stockyard. Two calves which were secured there by the neck were of course drowned. At about midnight the hurricane tore the house down and tossed it into the flood, which at once washed it away. Six hundred sheep, 50 head of eaotle, 50 brood-mares and horses, a woolshed, half-a-ton of sugar, several bags offlour, and other things were borne away like so many deal shavings. There was water to the depth of four feet on the plains two miles from the river. Of course the people on the station had to make for the hills, where they remained f-or two days with nothing to eat but what the natives could procure for them. I should tell you that before this gale and inundation the banks of the river were thickly timbered with kajeput. But the waters have altered all that. I hear that there is hardly a tree left standing: the havoc wrought here is enormous, and al most incredible. - About 10 miles from Mr Hicks', Mr. Lockyer has a station. Many of his horses are missing, and he has lost 300 splendid rams, the pick I understand of the whole country side. Messrs. Richardson-& Co., have a station on the George River, about 30 miles to the S. E. of Roebourne. The floods destroyed 1000 sheep. A number of horses are repopted missing. The kitchen was blown down by the gale, the stable was unroofed; while in the dwelling house, which stands a good half mile from the river, the water rose to the height of one foot, and washed away one side of the house. On the Upper Forteseue, 80 miles S. of Roe bourne is the Mill Stream Station, belonging, to Messrs. A. MoRse & Co. The house lies quite 100 yards from the stream; and yet there was 2ft. of water in the house during the flood, Messrs. McRae lost 300 sheep and lambs which were carried 10 miles down the river. Fifty head of cattle are absent without leave. The wool-shed, and the wool lately shorn which it contained, have vanished like the poet's " cloud capped towers and gorgeous palaces," and left no more trace than the "baseless fabric of a vision." A shepherd there hada narrow escape. He was carried for some distance by the surges, but two natives managed to extricate him at the peril of their own lives. For three days he lived without any more nourishment than the natives could procure for him, and with nothing but a strip of paper-bark to protect him from -the sun by day, and from the dews by night. On the Eastern Arden Mr. Withnell lost a dry flock containing 600 sheep. Thus, having reviewed the losses sustained on the outlying stations, I come again homewards where, alas, there are other disasters to record. On the beach, the roof was blown off Mr. Stewart's Public House. Mr. Pearse's store was unroofed and the goods it contained sus. tained serious damage. Mr. Howlett's store, 5oft. in length, lost its roof, and had the sides blown down. Chapman's house was levelled with the soil. Three boats were moored in the creek. One of them the Coach, 5 tons, was swept westward two miles into a large marsh. The Square and Compass, belonging to Mr. Herbert was borne some six miles inland and deposited in a marsh at the foot of a range of hills. Both vessels weremuch damaged. A 3 ton boat, the pro perty of Mr. Chapman, was smashed- to pieces against some stones at the base of a hill half a mile from the Creek. • I thought I had finished my sad task; but I find that I have yet to record the worst. On the evening of the 19th 12 or 14 natives had been landed from Mr. Howlet's erlly, anchored in withnell Bay. From one of them we learn that they say her on that evening at sunlown, but that on the following morning she was so

where visible. She must have gone down at her msoorings, or have drifted out to sea and foundered. No tidings can be heard of her. A meaman named Peter Lynch, and a man of color called Henry, wereon board of her. No hopes are entertained for their lives; as the AMinny has beeu in search of the missing boat without finding the slightest trace of her fate. A small boat, without any hands, as far as I know, on board, was also wrecked at Port Headland. I think that I have furnished you with a cor. rect account of all the casualties which have come to my knowledge. Such a storm as the one whose disastrous effects I have endeavored to describe, has certainly never been known since the first settlement of this coast. Some natives, however, of mature years have informed me that 20 years ago their country was visited by a similar hurricane, attended. with a similar rise in the rivers, and consequent iniidaition of the plains, and that numbers of the aborigines were washed away and drowued. I estimate that the total loss sustained by these settlements during the late gale cannot be less than £15,000, while some people aver that £20.000 will not cover the amount of damage inflicted and property destroyed.

Digitisation generously supported by
Fremantle City Library
Digitisation generously supported by