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Asian Tsunami effects in Western Australia

Tsunami effects in Western Australia

This page collates reports of Tsunami effects from various newspapers in Western Australia. Further on on the page are reports forwarded to the UWA by other individuals.

In addition, the W.A. Department of Planning and Infrastructure operates tide guages around the West Australian coast. The  DPI web site graphs and discusses these recordings.

Effects of earlier tsunamis ( 1994, 1977, 1883) are described elsewhere on this web site.

If you observed tsunami effects in Australia, it would be appreciated if you completed the Tsunami Report Form. This may assist scientists in predicting the effects of future tsunamis.

Clippings from regional newspapers in Western Australia

NorthWest TelegraphPort Hedland5 Jan 2005Lucky escape for Camper
Geraldton GuardianGeraldton29 Dec 2004Watery Grave
Midwest TimesGeraldton5 Jan 2005Minimal damage from surges
Sound TelegraphRockingham5 Jan 2005Tsunami effects ripple through to Bays
Busselton-Dunsborough MailBusselton29 Dec 2005Tidal surges sweep the bay


Lucky escape for Camper

Northwest Telegraph

A Karratha woman is lucky to be alive after a rogue wave, resulting from the Asian tsunami, swept her out to sea.

Donna Stott was camping with friends at Delambre Island, north-east of Karratha, when she was dragged 15m into the ocean.

Asleep in her tent at the time, Donna was woken at about 10pm by the sound of rushing water.

 "I mustn't have been fully asleep because I could hear something odd," she said.

"I only had the mosquito net in the tent drawn, so when I woke up I could sea the water tumbling towards me, it came right into the tent. "The tent then started filling with water and got picked up and pushed out into the ocean, I was fumbling around with the zip, but it wouldn't open.

  "The tent then flipped forward, the zip still wasn't working and I thought I was going to drown, but suddenly the zip came and I was able to get out." 

  Mrs Stott then returned to the ocean to retrieve her tent. Asleep in another tent, Vanessa Gandini, also of Karratha, was able to free herself before being pulled to sea.

Departing for their island camping trip early in the morning, the women were unaware of the tsunami that had struck. 

 "I was pretty hysterical, we didn't know what to do," Mrs Stott said.

"Luckily Vanessa had saved her mobile phone from getting wet and we were able to phone a friend in Karratha who told us what was going on.

 " Our partners were out night fishing, so our friend managed to get in contact with them via radio and notify the police.

 "It was really horrifying, I still can't believe it has happened, it was very surreal"


Geraldton Guardian, 29 Dec 2004

"Watery Grave"

TIDAL surges along the Mid West coastline caused havoc at Geraldton fisherman's wharf on Monday, sinking one boat and damaging others.

Literally ripples from the tsunamis which devastated coastal communities around South East Asia, the tidal surges repeatedly lowered and raised water levels in the Geraldton harbour.

At its highest point on Sunday night, the sea washed onto the main fisherman's

wharf and, at the town's front beach, reached the railway line in front of the Geraldton Yacht Club.

Geraldton Police Sergeant John Yates was first to raise the alarm after noticing the rapidly rising tide while aboard his boat at the Batavia Coast Marina.

"It was around 6.30 pm when I noticed the tide and it just kept coming. When it hit the level of the jetty I knew we had a problem ... it went over the top of the main jetty by a foot or more," Sen. Sgt Yates said.

"I could hear ropes snapping over at the yacht club. I put a call in and we tried to get everyone from the yacht club to start coming down and releasing their ropes.

"A lot of them managed to get down and release them in time - the damage wasn't too bad to the yachts.

"We were moored on the floating jetty so it went up with the tide but had it gone another 6 inches it would have caused huge problems because the jetty would have floated off the top of the pylons." he said.

Eddie Smith, a crayfisherman for 46 years, checked his boat's moorings on Sunday night when concerns were first raised.

Mr. Smith found the 36 foot (10.75m) Saxon resting as usual in fisherman's harbour when he arrived at 4.30am on Monday to pull his craypots. Returning safely just after 10am, he offloaded the catch and cleaned his boat, then went home.

"I'd only just sat down with a cup of tea when the fisherman's co-op radio room rang to tell me Saxon had sunk. I simply couldn't believe it" said a shocked Mr. Smith.

A tidal surge had lowered the water level but when it rose again within moments, Saxon's rails jammed under large tyres fixed to the pens as buffers.

A small group of men managed to release two other boats in a similar predicament but fisherman Peter Scapuzza said their efforts to free Saxon were doomed.

"She was jammed, once the water started rushing in we could only watch her go down. " Mr. Scarpuzza said.

"While we were trying to get Saxon free, all we could hear was the sound of snapping ropes as boats reached the end of their mooring lines."

Minor damage to several boats was reported while Saxon, an 11-year-old aluminium jet boat was on the bottom and awaiting a salvage crew from Perth.

Photos courtesy of The Geraldton Guardian

(Published in issue of 29 Dec, 2004)

The Saxon, sunk at its mooring

Low tide preceding arrival of tsunami wave


"Minimal damage from surges"

Midwest Times, January 5, 2005

Tidal surges experienced in Geraldton on December 26 as a result of the Tsunami in south Asia luckily left only minor damage to businesses and the city.

Geraldton Port Authority(GPA) acting CEO Bill Headley said some water flooded into the operations building and other tenants reported water on the floor in their premises.

"Of course there was the fishing boat that sank but apart from that there was no damage and no interruption to activities," he said.

"There was just the drying of carpets so there was no substantial damage."

City of Geraldton acting CEO Neil Wilson said the water had affected very little of the town as far as the City was concerned and there was nothing major to clean up. 

"I was out of the city at the time and I was expecting a call but I didn't recieve a single call from the State Emergency or anything," he said.

Photos courtesy of "The Midwest Times"

"Geraldton's tides were surging erratically as a result of the South Asia tsunami"

"High tides left the entrance to Pages Beach in a mess"

Sound Telegraph, 5 Jan 2005

Tsunami effects ripple through to bays, people rescued

High tides associated with the devastating earthquake and accompanying tidal wave off Indonesia on Boxing Day were felt in Mangles Bay and Shoalwater Bay.

People who walked across the sandbar to Penguin Island found themselves in trouble about 4pm when a freak tide occurred. About 40 people were rescued by private fishing boats.

Palmyra man Hudson Hopewell, who had been crayfishing off the island with members of his family and fiance Samantha West, picked up 15 people. Other boats joined in the rescue.

Ms West said the high tide swept several people from the sandbar, including Baldivis resident Trevor Hylands and family.

Mr Hylands had to hold on to his 11-year-old son and his 12-year-old friend. His wife and friends were rescued by another boat.

Thankfully Samantha and her fiance were there to pull us out of the water," he said.

But the following day another 20 people got into difficulty, leading the Department of Conservation and Land Management

 to close the sandbar. Cruise boat operator Francis Marchant said he had never seen conditions like it with a 30cm "waterfall" forming on either side of the sandbar.

Mr Marchant rescued people on both days.

Signs erected at Mersey Point warn of the potential danger in trying to cross the sandbar.

About 7.30pm on Boxing Day freak tides were noticed in Mangles Bay, causing concern for vessels moored off the Cruising Yacht Club hard stand area and the Palm Beach headquarters. Owners could not get to their boats. Club manager Karl van Krussen said the tide was high - bigger than would be expected in the worst winter conditions.

Waves crashed over the club's jetty and several yachts suffered damage. xx Twenty-six craft were moored at the time. Luckily, the club had upgraded moorings in preparation for the annual Cockburn Sound Regatta, Mr van Krussen said.

Busselton- Dunsborough Mail, 29 December 2004

Tidal surges sweep the bay

THE earthquake off Indonesia which caused destructive tsunamis throughout Asia on Sunday was felt locally when three people were swept into Geographe Bay on Monday as a result of tidal surges.

Graham Barrett and his sons Elliott, 8, and Reece Dorrington, 10, were swimming near the Geographe Bay Yacht Club about 10am when a rip sucked them more than 100 metres offshore.

They were spotted by a kite surfer who helped them ashore.

All three were taken to Busselton Hospital and treated for exhaustion.

There were tidal swings off Busselton every 30 to 60 minutes in the 24 hours after the earthquake and it is believed the water flowing out of the diversion drain was moving unusually fast on Monday.

Police have been regularly patrolling the area on watch for more dangerous rips and are unsure when the surges will stop.


Waves raise city's high water mark

WAVES up to 1.5m hit Geraldton shores over 24 hours on the weekend as a result of the Indonesian tsunami disaster, according to Geraldton Port Authority acting chief executive Bill Headley.

Mr. Headley said besides a sunk crayboat, the only visible effects from the tidal surge within the port was water to the GPA operations building and to

several businesses in the fishing boat harbour."The only interruption to our activities was when a fertiliser vessel chose to stop unloading for an hour or two on Sunday when water was on Connell Road." he said.

Mr. Headley said the information from the GPA's wave rider buoy - the only one in Geraldton - that measures wave size and swells would be available later in the week.

"During winter storms we would probably have waves that size or even bigger, but this was a freak occurrence over a consistent period of time," he said.

It is believed that shops and cars flooded on Sunday night as the water rose about 1.5m above the high water mark.

State Emergency Service regional duty officer Adrian DeKleer said the local effect of the tsunami was completely unexpected.

"Whilst we did get a tsunami warning we didn't know the extent of it and were only expecting slightly higher tides," Mr DeKleer said.

"We had no idea how much water was going to come through, but that is not really the fault of anyone ... it was totally unique"

Mr DeKleer said the SES kept people away from the inundated area, which involved the closure of Marine Terrace and roads surrounding the Batavia Coast Marina for approximately three hours between 8pm and 11pm.

"From my understanding there was no infrastructure damage apart from a bit of water-logging." he said.



more reports, or clarification of these reports by the general public would be appreciated


major restructuring/remodelling of beach/dunes on north side of mile-long jetty

access to BUSH CAMP -  recreation area south of Carnarvon reportedly flooded


Dramatic effects at the mouth of the Murchison River. Follow the link for more detailed description


During the evening, water rose 6" or more over amateur fishing wharf. An adjacent park area was flooded. Photos kindly supplied by Kathy Samulkiewicz

Below - the high tide covering jetty at Dongara

Below - debris left behind after flooding in Dongara


Flood gates closed by authorities to protect facilities from rising tide. Follow link for detailed report

PORT GEOGRAPHE (approx 20 km NE of Busselton)

Water flooding over concrete retaining wall of canal - taken about 6 pm, photograher Judeth Cocks


Tide marks were up into the sand dunes and while having coffee the comment was made  the last three of the stairs to the beach had been under water.
The high tide mark was indicated by the litter in the dunes.

North of Cape Leeuwin

"I was fishing on the rocks and beach about 71m north of Cape Leeuwin. The sea suddenly surged up between 400mm and 600mm without warning all along the beach. We nearly lost most of our fishing gear. There were no unsual waves at the time. The event happened in several seconds . sea then resume normal"


"Extremely low water level in the river at low tide. We noticed it around 9-9.30am as we were leaving the boat as it caused difficulty in bringing the boat ashore via the launching ramp.


Kalgan River caravan park manager said he had never seen such a low tide. His school-age boys were walking across the river by the caravan park."

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