Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Repairing the damage

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Repairing the damage
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Workers are shown in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy fixing roofs and securing tarpaulin for protection. Fallen trees, collapsed buildings, debris and shells of houses can be seen. Summary by Poppy De Souza.

This house, stripped back to its wooden skeleton, only hints at the scale and impact of Cyclone Tracy. The repetitive hammering of the workmen, in the absence of people and other city noises, makes these scenes a little unsettling, despite it almost looking like just another work site.

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