031. 12th February 2008. Nature unleashes a fraction of her fury…

This is not a travel tale.

We did not travel in February.

This is a tale of destruction and heartbreak.

The aftermath turned all the hard work and heroics of the day into a nightmare of pettiness and impatience and frustration for some and unbelievable good fortune for others

This story is not about any of those.

In the early hours of February 2008 while most people are still tucked into bed a centrally focussed storm blew in from the northeast, funnelling through Hook Passage between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island.

The first casualty was the steel sailing vessel, “ROMANCE” with 35 passengers and crew on board was thrown upon the rocks and were rescued three hours later by helicopter. It was two months before the wreck was removed.

The narrow storm front continued across Whitsunday Passage and Molle Channel into Pioneer Bay uninterrupted and swept across moored boats outside the Abel Point Marina at Airlie Beach.

Sixty six boats were washed up on the rocks or beaches. Most destroyed or so badly damaged they were total losses. Others had lesser damage. Some disappeared forever.

Six days later rain fell both here and in Mackay 150 klms to the south. In one deluge, Mackay received 600mm of rain in 24 hours. Airlie Beach received a little less, around 400mm.

Flooding occurred in Mackay while flooding and mudslides plagued Airlie Beach.

In Mackay over 4,000 homes were damaged with about 300 being total losses.

Almost twelve months later work is still being carried out on many homes while some people are still in temporary accomodation. There were simply not enough tradesmen for the work. Many tradesmen were working at the mines for huge salaries and many were still working in Innisfail from the cyclone two years before.

No it was not a cyclone. In fact most people in the area did not notice any wind. Each side of the path of wind was calm.

 

This was a storm the following day, 13th February 2008 taken from Hamilton Island looking towards the mainland and Airlie Beach.

This was a storm the following day, 13th February 2008 taken from Hamilton Island looking towards the mainland and Airlie Beach.

The following photos of boats on rocks and flooding in Mackay will tell the rest of the story.

Airlie Beach.

There are at least 4 boats on the rocks here.

There are at least 4 boats on the rocks here.

 

"STELLA MARIS" was thrown on the rocks on top of a ferro concrete boat. Stella was cut into sections and craned off the rocks.

"STELLA MARIS" was thrown on the rocks on top of a ferro concrete boat. Stella was cut into sections and craned off the rocks.

 

Children play near the remains of a catamaran.

Children play near the remains of a catamaran.

 

This was once a luxury bareboat charter catamaran.

This was once a luxury bareboat charter catamaran.

 

This boat came close to destroying the scenic walkway.

This boat came close to destroying the scenic walkway.

 

More losses.

More losses.

 

Mackay Floods

This is outside Donnis son, Errol, shop in Malcomsen Street North Mackay.

This is outside Donnis son, Errol, shop in Malcomsen Street North Mackay.

 

Popular pincnic spot and fishing area next to the Hospital Bridge.

Popular picnic spot and fishing area next to the Hospital Bridge.

 

Porters Hardware. Note the traffic signs.

Porters Hardware. Note the traffic signs.

 

This thing must have been like a rudderless ship causing havoc.

This shipping container must have been like a rudderless ship causing havoc.

 

Gooseponds next to Caltex Garage.

Gooseponds next to Caltex Garage.

 

Victoria Street. Main business street in Mackay.

Victoria Street. Main business street in Mackay.

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