Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Food and shelter

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Food and shelter
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A public centre is set up as a temporary refuge for people displaced by the cyclone. Meals are provided along with medical services such as typhoid and tetanus vaccinations. Summary by Poppy De Souza.

For those not evacuated from Darwin, the gathering centres set up like this one provided much needed relief and shelter. Close ups on the announcement boards show the menu for meals (including chicken paprika), screening times for movies, and availability of health services.

The sanitation and health conditions after the cyclone’s passing were of concern to those providing medical services. Typhoid and tetanus needles were the most common preventative needles given, with Darwin being a tropical climate in the middle of summer.

The close ups on people’s faces as they eat silently from paper plates and out of makeshift containers gives resonance to this clip.

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath synopsis

This unedited raw footage was shot by freelance cameraman Keith Bushnell in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Tracy which hit Darwin on Christmas Day 1974. It captures the devastation and destruction of the city and the temporary shelter and food hall set up to provide assistance to the people who lost their homes. It also shows a convoy of navy helicopters across the Darwin sky.

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath curator's notes

Freelance cameraman Keith Bushnell recorded the visible impacts of Cyclone Tracy and was one of the first cameramen on the scene to witness the devastation. Bushnell was freelancing for the ABC at the time and other parts of his footage were widely seen in news bulletins around the country. As a viewer, it is unusual to see raw footage like this not packaged up into a 90-second news story, although it is clear that Bushnell has a professional eye for what is valuable in this context. The close ups on people’s faces and objects, and the panoramic views of the destruction indicate that Bushnell has a clear understanding about news and current affairs.

It is estimated that Cyclone Tracy killed 71 people, with at least 22 people lost at sea. Between 80 to 90 per cent of housing was destroyed and tens of thousands were left homeless.

Notes by Poppy De Souza