Cyclone Marcus is considered to be the worst cyclone to hit Darwin since Cyclone Tracy in 1974. It continues a long history of destructive weather in Darwin, which begins with a little-known cyclone 120 years ago. Known as the 'The Great Hurricane', it hit at 3.30am in January 1897, bringing wild weather to the little town then known as Palmerston. It dumped almost 300mm of rain overnight, ripping off roofs, uprooting trees and flattening telegraph poles. While the whole town was damaged, Chinatown was probably the worst hit, pictured here the following morning. One Chinese family was reported to have run from three different houses as they were destroyed around them, surviving without injury. Others weren't so lucky, with 28 deaths, mostly Aboriginal and Chinese people and others on the wrecked pearling fleet in the harbour. The Federal Cabinet made an immediate grant of £2000 for the recovery effort and the town did what it's always done - rebuild.

Image: 1528180, National Library of Australia


Published: 25 March 2018

Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

caddie brain 2021

These works were made on Arrernte, Larrakia, Gaddigal and Lenape land that was never ceded