1970s Brisbane – fire, tornado and flood

1970s Brisbane – fire, tornado and flood
Seven Network
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This short clip covers the Whiskey Au Go Go fire, a tornado in 1973 and the 1974 Brisbane flood. 

All three segments rely on compelling eyewitness accounts from survivors, news footage and amateur home movies.

The disasters are grouped together because of their timing in the chronological special Queensland: Flashback 150 Years which adds to the dramatic tension of the segments as a whole.

The Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley was firebombed on 8 March 1973, killing 15 people.

On 4 November 1973 a tornado travelled 51 kilometres, ripping through Brisbane and causing severe damage to thousands of properties.

The last segment describes the Brisbane flood of January 1974, awkwardly straddling a lighthearted approach to vision of someone swimming at Lang Park and people being able to catch fish on a main street, with an emotional statement from a woman who lost her home. 

Ipswich, Beenleigh and the Gold Coast were also flooded. Sixteen people died in the floods, 300 were injured and 8,000 homes were destroyed. 

Other major floods in the Brisbane River system include 1824–5, 1841, 1893 and 2011.

The Queensland State Emergency Service (QSES) was formed in 1975 to assist with natural disasters in direct response to the tornado and flooding.

This excerpt comes from the Seven News Brisbane special Queensland: Flashback 150 Years, broadcast on 30 May 2009. It was produced for the 150th anniversary of the state of Queensland. Queensland formally separated from New South Wales on 6 June 1859.

Notes by Beth Taylor