18["Storm at Onslow", The West Australian, Monday 12 April 1909, page 4]

STORM AT ONSLOW.

A SEVERE BLOW.

DAMAGE TO BUILDINGS AND GOODS.

FEARS FOR SAFETY OF LIGHTERS.

Onslow, April 6.

Another severe blow occurred here yesterday. Commencing about 7 a.m. the gale increased in violence all day, and did not decrease till about 10 p.m. Considerable damage was done. The hall used as a church was swept away. Clark's Rob Roy Hotel has a great amount of the roof off, and Peake's Temperance Hotel also suffered severely, as did other buildings to a minor degree. Two lighters, a lugger, and a cutter are ashore; the latter being a complete wreck. The jetty at the time was strewn with goods, consisting of sugar, salt, cement (all ruined), flour, iron (much of which was blown into the sea), and other miscellaneous goods, which had been discharged from the s.s. Gorgon. It is regarded locally as a disgrace to the Harbour and Lights Department that this damage and loss of goods should have occurred. The hoisting of a sling of goods by an antiquated crane with a jib 2ft. too short takes three minutes and 120 revolutions of the handles to raise to the throat of the jib before swinging the sling on to the wharf. One of about every five slings is knocked out of shape by hitting the combings of the [?baten], and has to be remade. Why a travelling donkey engine and winch cannot be supplied is hard to understand. Again, the mails from the s.s. Gorgon, which arrived here at 12 noon on Saturday were not at the Post Office till 5 p.m. This delay occurs always when a boat arrives. The men on the ship, lighters, and wharf worked all day on Sunday in defiance of the law; some of them 36 hours without a break. The harbourmaster also had his coat off and helped to do the lumping. The tramline from the town is washed away in many places. At the bridge where there is an embankment 5ft. high, there is a break on one side of 50 yards, and on the other of about [?60] yards. It will take weeks to repair the line. The passenger car, which is an obsolete structure was turned over by the wind, and then blown away. So far no loss of life has been reported, but fears are entertained as to the safety of nine luggers, which put to sea yesterday morning. The police are to be complimented on their pluck in having, with one or two volunteers, gone to the beach for rescue work, and walking four and a half miles in the teeth of the storm. They met one Malay near the beach, who had tried to come ashore in a dingey. The dingey was overturned, but he managed to reach the shore. He was exhausted when met, and was given a little stimulant by Constable Fogarty. who then, with the others, went on to the beach, but found that nothing could be done. there. On their return trip, they found the Malay face downward in the mud. They commandeered a truck and the wind brought them back to the town with the loss of one of the party, who got bumped off into the mud through a jolt of the truck, but sustained no injury. The Malay is quite recovered this morning.

AN EXCITING EXPERIENCE.

A LIGHTER BLOWN ASHORE.

A PARTY'S TRYING TIME. April 6 An exciting time was experienced by a party consisting of Dr. Keenan, Messrs. Swan, M.L.A., Stuart, Fettbach, McLarty, C. Clark. and five others, including the crew on the lighter Colliar, yesterday. On leaving the s.s. Gorgon, the master of the lighter, which had about 75 tons of cargo on board, decided to lay to, as there was no chance of getting to the wharf. After remaining anchored for some hours, exposed to the full force of the storm, it being impossible to stay on deck for more than a few seconds, two of the anchors commenced to drag. As there was every possiblity of the craft being dragged bows under, it was then decided to let the anchors go. This was done, and the boat ran ashore, where she was exposed to the tremendous sea running, which came thundering over her until one wave larger than the rest lifted her over the bank into a blind creek amongst the mangroves, where for some hours she was carried about in circles. Everyone on board expected that any moment the lighter would be stove in on the mangroves or stumps. The party had to remain in this precarious position till daylight this morning when they beached the craft, and after a most trying night had to walk home. None of the party are now much the worse for their trying experience. No further news has been received of the luggers which put to sea yesterday.

[Owing to the telegraph line between Carnarvon and Onslow having been interrupted, the above telegrams did not reach Perth till resterday.]

OFFICIAL TELEGRAMS. The telegraph lines between Onslow and Carnarvon have been interrupted by a severe blow, which occurred on the 6th inst. The steamer Minilya, which reached Carnarvon yesterday morning, brought with her the Onslow telegrams. One of these, dated Tuesday, April 6, was as fonlows:--"On Monday and Monday night there was a severe hurricane, which came unexpectedly, doing much damage to shipping and property. All lighters and passenger boats wrecked, or high and dry in mangroves. with the exception of one small boat. The s.s. Gorgon, which left at daylight on Monday for Carnarvon, experienced a very rough trip to Cossack. Estimated local damage about 3,000."

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