List of Darwin Evacuees
The chaos caused by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day in 1974, is represented by this unprepossessing collection of bound pages bearing the title List Of Darwin Evacuees.
The 733-page document contains the names, ages and destinations of the 32 862 residents who were compulsorily evacuated from Darwin in the days following the cyclone. This copy, showing signs of heavy use, was prepared for the Australian Capital Territory Police working in Darwin.
Was the evacuation necessary? Authorities wanted to reduce numbers in the city to a ‘safe’ level, although, this resulted in much family turmoil and countless stories of hardship. But The city was without water, electricity, sanitation or communications.
Darwin was almost levelled by winds gusting up to more than 217 kilometres The official death toll was 65. Many more, including Indigenous people, may also have perished.
Although Darwin’s population recovered to pre-cyclone numbers about three years later (mostly newcomers), by 1980, 60 percent of those entitled to vote in 1974 were no longer living in Darwin. The destructive winds of Cyclone Tracy had reshaped not only a city, but also thousands of lives.