Read Warning, The Story of Cyclone Tracy by Sophie Cunningham Online


The sky at the top end is big and the weather moves like a living thing. You can hear it in the cracking air when there is an electrical storm and as the thunder rolls around the sky…When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped theThe sky at the top end is big and the weather moves like a living thing. You can hear it in the cracking air when there is an electrical storm and as the thunder rolls around the sky…When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia’s season of goodwill. For the fortieth anniversary of the nation’s most iconic natural disaster, Sophie Cunningham has gone back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation—and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist’s eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more—and more destructive—extreme weather with every year that passes....

Title : Warning, The Story of Cyclone Tracy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781922079367
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Warning, The Story of Cyclone Tracy Reviews

  • Ellen
    2019-05-28 17:56

    Cunningham has done a wonderful job of weaving together fact and narrative in this recount of the events of Cyclone Tracy. Her careful re-telling changed my understanding of Darwin's history and modern-day personality, and serves as a reminder of the power which climate holds over our lives.

  • Alexandra Daw
    2019-06-10 17:08

    This was a really well thought out and structured account of Cyclone Tracy. I found it easy to read and engaging right to the end.

  • Ashley Hay
    2019-06-01 20:12

    I'm cheating a bit here by pasting in some notes I wrote for a session at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival when I was able to talk with Sophie Cunningham about this extraordinary and powerful book: here you are.****For want of a better introduction to the book, I’m going to paraphrase a bit of the email that I sent to Sophie Cunningham after I’d finished reading – or rather, consuming – Warning. "Sophie Cunningham," I wrote, "your book is extraordinary. I was three when Cyclone Tracy hit and I think I have a vague memory of something to do with it, but given I was three, I might not. What I do understand now is that it sits in my head as a flat historical fact, a thing I know happened somewhere, rather than anything about which I’ve had any true or visceral knowledge."I have a friend who was in Darwin when it hit and she would have been eleven or twelve at the time. As I read this book, as I actually understood for the first time the extent and extremity of what had happened, I realised that while I have heard her say many times, 'oh I was in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy hit,' I've never ever heard her say much more than that. And I began to wonder if underneath that one simple sentence of hers was this ferocious comment to anyone who hadn’t been there: a sort of 'what could you possibly know of this, if you weren't there?'" The memory of Cyclone Tracy is an iconic Australian memory, a national memory, a keystone memory, if you want to think about it conservation or wildlife parlance – but it happened in a small space a long way away from where most of Australia was, and it happened in an era (this is shocking to realize now) which meant that after the shock of it, after the devastation, the people of Darwin had to actually wonder if anyone anywhere on the face of the world knew what had happened – or that they were still there.It would be a different story today.What Sophie has done, in animating and unraveling and explaining and vivifying this extraordinary event is to transform it from a dot point of history, a thing we all mention without any thought (or much knowledge) of what we’re talking about, to a thing that we have to think about and feel and empathise with. The families, the animals, the landscape, the panic; the utter mess of it. It should be required reading in every history and writing class available, but actually I think we should all have to read it. It is a large and compelling thing, and I can only congratulate her on her achievement.

  • Lisa
    2019-06-06 18:43

    I was alone in the house last Saturday when I began reading Sophie Cunningham’s Warning, The Story of Cyclone Tracy, and a windstorm was brewing. It was gusting up to almost 60kh/h, which is 7 on the Beaufort scale, almost a gale. I went outside and did the usual things that I do when the weather seems ominous, stacking outdoor chairs away and tucking the cast-iron table upside-down under the shrubs at the back of the house. I was very conscious that short of evacuating the city altogether, nothing much the residents of Darwin could have done would have made any difference when in 1974 the city was hit by a cyclone packing 217 km/h before the anemometer ceased functioning. You only have to look at this video to see the destruction (see link below).In the prologue to Warning, the facts are presented without emotion:These are the bare bones of it: around midnight on Christmas Eve, 1974, a cyclone hit Darwin. Around seventy-one people died, hundreds more were injured and seventy per cent of the homes of Darwin’s 47,000 inhabitants were laid waste. That left only five hundred residences habitable out of some twelve thousand. Every single public building was destroyed or seriously damaged. While the loss of life was limited, the material damage was unparalleled. The population of Darwin endured winds that some believe reached speeds of three hundred kilometres per hour. In the week after Tracy, close to thirty thousand people were airlifted out of the ruined town in what remains Australia’s largest evacuation effort. Many of them never returned. The damage bill was estimated at between 800 million and 1.5 billion dollars, which is the equivalent of 6.1 billion today. This, set against the town’s relatively small population means it still ranks as one of the world’s most costly disasters.The damage was contained, comprehensive and explicitly material. Tracy wiped out a city. (p. 7)But in the ensuing pages, Sophie Cunningham brings these facts to life. She reviews events with a compelling mixture of oral history and official archives. Acknowledging from the outset that memory is fallible, she has nonetheless made the facts more real with the reminisces of people who were there. To read the rest of my review, and access the video, please visit

  • Ellen
    2019-05-27 16:06

    This book acknowledges the Northern Territory Archives as being key to it being able to be written. This comes through the body of the book as well as the acknowledgements. It also highlights collecting by other organisations, including the recording of oral histories. This book shows the value of different methods of research, archives, libraries and interviews. While it includes some personal elements from the author (of her memories and experiences), these do not overwhelm the accounts of what happened in Darwin, rather they help to position them. Similarly references to other disasters are used to make specific points about Cyclone Tracey and the aftermath. This book is a reminder of much discrimination, towards indigenous people and women (and while there have been changes, these have not passed). Good discussion of the effects of climate change is also used as part of this book.The personal stories of how people experienced the cyclone are very powerful. This was a powerful book to read, the cyclone accounts are vivid, as are the descriptions of the aftermath (including the politics).This book highlights the importance of collecting current events. What collecting was done post Cyclone Yasi, the widespread rain and hail in April 2015 in NSW and the Christmas Day fires in Victoria 2015? This is important collecting for public libraries for their local studies collections for local research, but also to enable people to draw information from different events together (as was done in this book). The collections available for this writer show the importance of collecting soon after the event (obviously in a sensitive /appropriate/representative/inclusive way) as well as collecting after time has lapsed.

  • Andrew Bishop
    2019-06-15 14:52

    With the 40th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy last year, a lot of memories were out there. Many people (assuming they were born then) can remember exactly what they were doing when reports came through on Christmas day that Darwin had been destroyed (remember it was pre-internet and no instant news- it took some time for the tragedy to be reported- so much so that survivors thought they had been forgotten!). As a 12 year old playing with his much awaited Christmas presents, I can remember my grandfather coming around to our house saying he had heard news that Darwin had been destroyed- I recall my families incredulity at hearing the news. Sophie Cunningham's account of the Cyclone in the hours leading up to it and in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years following is compelling. Full of personal accounts and extracts from the news at the time it paints a picture of a massive natural disaster and an Australia that struggled to cope with response. It was a natural disaster that to some extent contributed towards preparedness in years following though human beings learn very slowly and easily forget or ignore the past. A warning- I would suggest this book for those reading it who went through the event may trigger some unpleasant memories as it is graphic in parts. As a case study in emergency response i think it is invaluble and is compulsory reading for anyone in the response business.

  • Marisa Pintado
    2019-05-21 16:12

    I loved this as much as I did Adrian Hyland's Kinglake 350, which is unsurprising as the two have a lot in common. Both pull together compelling narratives of tragic events and interrogate them, exploring how and why and why not. I knew almost nothing about Cyclone Tracy - except that it happened - and Warning provided a compassionate yet measured insight into a fascinating part of recent Australian history. I was particularly gripped by the logistics of communication within 1970s Darwin during the immediate aftermath, and with the rest of Australia, as well as the politics and impact of evacuation and disaster control - not to mention the many stories of personal tragedy and survival gleaned from records and SC's own interviews.

  • Jacinda
    2019-06-05 15:58

    Cyclone Tracy hit before I was born, but I still heard some of the stories of Tracy when I was a child and fascinated by cyclones. What I learnt about it was far from the personal impact that this natural disaster had on people. It was a fasincating read that covered several different aspects including a in depth account of what it was like during the cyclone that almost made you feel a part of it all. Through to different aspects that hampered the clean up and the people who remained after it all.

  • Dennis Mews
    2019-06-14 19:56

    I was interested to read about Cyclone Tracy, which hit the northern Australian city of Darwin back in the 1970‘s, having visited earlier this year. The book is a remarkable account of unimaginable damage and heartbreak for the inhabitants. The sense of remoteness is brought home to the reader on every page. A difficult read in many places, but a worthwhile one.

  • Colette Godfrey
    2019-06-18 12:52

    Amazing and heartbreaking to contemplate in parts. I couldn't put this down. I was compelled to read this as the 40th anniversary of Tracy is this month. I was born 2 weeks after but didn't move there until 2 years after, so I'm not sure I ever comprehended the devastation and rebuilding. Waves of nostalgia reading this.

  • Townsville Library
    2019-06-09 18:07

    Find this Great Summer Read in Townsville

  • Sherry Mackay
    2019-06-11 16:53

    A very interesting and informative story of cyclone Tracy and the people who lived thru it. I found it a very readable book, and I learned a lot about cyclones and Darwin and the politics of disasters.