Babinda is used to being known as Australia’s wettest town, so it’s turned to the community’s living memory of cyclones as a way of remembering the past in Queensland’s 150th anniversary year, Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said today.

The Queensland Government granted the Babinda District Community Association Inc $9,999 in Q150 Community Funding towards the creation of a website to record oral histories of Babinda’s cyclone past.

“Babinda’s relationship with cyclones has shaped the communities consciousness in the past and will no doubt continue to do so in the future,” Mr Pitt said.

“It’s interesting to see even for the uninitiated that there’s a pattern with Babinda cyclones that the website focuses on from before we even began naming these reminders of nature’s power.

“Babinda’s first recorded cyclone was in 1918 when 90 people lost their lives mostly from drowning as the community in those days congregated in tents along the river banks.

“They were also not as familiar with the impact of nature’s fury nor did they have the technology we have today that gives us forewarning.

“The 1918 cyclone was most costly in its loss of life but it had no name.

“The next recorded devastating cyclones were Cyclone Agnes in February 1956, Cyclone Winifred in March 1986 and Cyclone Larry in March 2006.

“Today’s improved building codes and meteorology technology have prevented loss of life if not loss of property.

“The website records it all in words, pictures and oral histories of those who lived the experiences or who’s parents and grand parents lived the experiences.

“In this year when we celebrate our people, our places and our stories, this is a sobering look at the force of nature and the ever present danger people of the Far North take in their stride.”

“What we notice most about cyclones is how much more aware we are of them before they hit and also the extent of their devastation because of the media.

“In 1918 the cyclone’s toll may have been greater because people had not heard or were aware of the dangers of cyclones.

“In the early 1900s they didn’t have the saturation media that we have today where we are able to track a cyclone’s every move.

“There were also not the official community assistance networks to help people impacted by the cyclones.

“We’ve gone from no official organised assistance, to the SES and more.

“For instance, Cyclone Larry stood out not only because of its devastation but because of the huge organised community assistance that was rallied around it.

“I’m talking about the SES, the Queensland Government departments like the Department of Communities and a whole lot of other organisations that came out to help,” Mr Pitt said.

Debra Quabba, President of the Babinda District Community Association also known as the Taskforce said that it was important to record these historic recollections and keep them forever.

“With the generation who experienced the 1918 cyclone having passed away, today we rely on oral histories as told by the children of those who experienced it and their memories of what their parents said about it are very vivid,” Ms Quabba said.

“Through our oral histories we not only remember the power of nature and those that died because of it but also the resilience of the people of Babinda and the heroes who came to our aid.”

2009 is Queensland’s 150th anniversary year of independence from New South Wales.  The Queensland Government’s $4 million Q150 Community Funding program offered grants between  $2,000 and $10,000 to communities to help them mark Queensland’s anniversary in ways that were,meaningful to them.

There are more than 500 Q150 Community Funding activities and events around the State for Queenslanders to enjoy in 2009.

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