Saturday, January 9, 2010
The savage storm of my childhood
It was late March 1961, the summer had been everything but an ordinary Australian summer, devoid of even one hot spell and unlike the summer just getting underway it was one of our coldest and very wet. It was about 6AM on that very early autumn morning that I got the cows in, there was thunder and lightning and the sky that Sunday morning dawned green and threatening, the cows were all upset and wanted to head east away from the coming horror storm, a terrible roar was coming from out of the west a metallic sound like a huge train and the cloud was boiling, I was watching the sky carefully expecting to see a funnel cloud descend. As I get the cows in that morning I just get inside the dairy when all hell broke loose, a world of gale driven torrential rain, large hail the size of tennis balls blowing horizontally and lightning which was just absolutely constant, I started the milking machines but very soon there was a tremendous crack of lightning and a horrific thunderbolt and the power went off as a nearby transformer was struck and blew up, electrical appliances blew up in the house and the phone was melted as it blew up on the wall, electric light bulbs exploded. The rain and hail was so severe that it at times even almost drowned out the thunder and visibility was just a few meters, soon the wind and hail stopped and it just settled back into 3 hours of absolutely torrential rain and lightning, I watched the creek on the flat grow to a wild raging torrent in which huge trees smashed by the wild winds floated down, fences were washed away, the cows all moved away from the flats to higher ground and huge boulders crashed down steep ravines in the flood, 10 inches of rain fell in the 3 hour storm, the district was without electricity for days which included this city of Wollongong which was very hard hit in one of its worst thunderstorms, crops and potatoes were just washed out of the ground, the bitumen was torn from our steep farm road. As a child I feared that it was the end of the world on that frightful autumn morning as nature turned as savage as a Pit Bull Mastiff, although there were no twisters in Kangaloon, they were seen in nearby Kangaroo Valley that savage morning.
Picture: Kangaloon Valley