Newcastle Earthquake 20 years on. What were you doing?

Exactly 20 years ago today, a 5.5 richter scale earthquake hit my home town of Newcastle, Australia.

The earthquake, which hit at 10.27 am, killed 13 people and injured 166. The inner city suburb of Hamilton and particularly Beaumont Street, with its rows of shops, was the worst hit. Also devastated was the Newcastle Workers Club, which collapsed in horrifying fashion killing nine people. Thankfully at least in the case of the Newcastle Workers Club, the earthquake hit in the morning when the venue was relatively empty instead of later that night when it would have been full to the brim with people attending a rock show – I can’t find the name of the band, but I want to say INXS.

When the earthquake struck I was jumping on the new trampoline my sister an I had been given for Christmas. An apt place to ride out an earthquake you might say. At the time I was living at 12 Sygna Close, Rankin Park, in a new subdivision. There were new buildings being built all around our house and at first I thought it was one of the new houses nearby that had collapsed. It was only later that we realised it was an earthquake after the theories of an explosion at BHP, a mine collapse and a gas explosion had been discounted by the radio we were listening to with neighbours.

At the time, my mum was working in town at the Commonwealth Bank on Newcomen Street. I remember her recalling how she felt time slowed down and her spinning around to watch the tall glass windows of the bank shaking and moving as the earthquake passed.

Thankfully I didn’t know anybody truly affected by the earthquake. Nobody I knew died, was injured, or was even forced to leave their home so that it could be demolished. Instead thankfully for me the earthquake was simply one of those remarkable life events I experienced. I was one of the ones that could say, ’5.5 and I survived.’

Fellow Novocastrians what is your ’5.5 and I survived story’? Where were you when the earthquake struck? I would love to hear your stories.If you enjoyed this post why not subscribe to my blog via RSS or email by following this link. Also whilst you’re at it why not follow me on Twitter .

  • matthewgain

    Here are some of the comments left by people on Facebook, where I also asked people to share their experiences:

    Elizabeth Dawson
    I was lying on my bed reading in Sydney and remember the bookcase shaking

    Kathryn Lewis
    Mum had to go into work which was at those glass buildiings on wharf road. Mum put me & Andrew in the conf room. We thought a train had derailed & hit the building. I remember running down the fire escape & looking behind as a crack was appearing. Building remained standing though & we got out in one piece.

    Linda Thomas
    I was taking my brother's temperature because he was sick when we felt the house sway. We all ran out onto the street, stared at our houses and were a bit freaked out. Glad we owned a battery-powered radio as it was the only way of finding out what was going on.

    Jess Phillis
    I was in bed petting the cat, who was sitting on my chest. A few seconds before hand (animals are so clever) she dug her claws in really hard then pounced off when the building shook. Everyone ran out to the street because we thought the house had been hit by a semi-trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqwXKjOL4C8

  • James

    I was in sydney and missed it all but came back to a few cracks in the house when i was 4.

    Here is a pretty interesting photos from the quake: http://www.ourhistory.com.au