Sunday, December 28, 2014

10.27am December 28th 1989

   'Where were you when... ?'
This became the familiar question surrounding recollections of the Newcastle Earthquake that for many reasons seems a lifetime ago... chief among them the fact I missed it!!
   My friends and I had embarked on ill fated overnight sojourn to Dungog to follow up on the day with a bush walk in the Barrington's following the river from one take off point through several flat and waterfall sections, to a carpark that would take most of the day to reach.
   Some of us were under prepared and insufficiently committed to the task. There had been rain in the weeks before so that some sections predicted to be dry, were in fact long stretched of knee deep water. Our more capable group leaders did a pretty mixed job of guiding us through given our slow pace and one serious injury. Those friends have continued the 28th December tradition many years since, including a helicopter evacuation.
  In the images above of the Williams River I note with interest the helmets and wetsuits... a bit different to old joggers, ruggers and a terry towelling hat or in Mowbs case a pair of old volleys, a polystyrene 6 can esky [with a few cans and a sandwich]...
   That's just detail which explains how half the group waited outside a house, at 8.30pm at night, while the others ordered and brought back take away Chinese food and a story of what news was on the radio and how other patrons couldn't believe they had no idea what had happened...
   On returning home to our flat at the time it was evident it would have been a very different experience had I been watching the cricket on TV in Adamstown. There was a small crack in one wall, the goldfish were dead on the floor and half the water had damaged many books on lower shelves. The clothes dryer that lived on the top of the water heater had moved so close to toppling off with out having done so...
   All in all, a remarkable piece of history to have missed!! The stopped clock at Woolworths at Jesmond Shopping Centre always reminds me of this and the 13 people who lost their lives at the Workers Club collapse, the awnings that fell and one person from nervous shock at a Drs surgery included by the Coroner. There's a commemoration in Newcastle this morning [something which has been more focused on people moving on after the first few years] and the Newcastle Museum has a 'then and now' photographic exhibit of people who were depicted at the time... simple things done well!! Tantrum Theatre are doing a performance of the story based play 'Aftershocks.'
"Where were you when...?"

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