Key Findings: Cyclone Tracy

Matthew Mason and Katherine Haynes

This factsheet presents the key findings of a project conducted to understand adaptation lessons from Cyclone Tracy – a Category 4 cyclone that destroyed Darwin in the Northern Territory on Christmas Day, 1974. This case study found that buildings with engineering input into their design and construction performed considerably better than those without. Cyclone Tracy highlighted the problems with using a design approach based on the everyday performance of a structure, and showed how accounting for extreme events, such as the limit state design approach, was essential. The historical case study also showed clearly that longer term resilience does not lie simply in improved engineering standards, but also in the psychological welfare of individuals in the impacted community. This factsheet contains further information on the scale of the disaster, the impacts of the events, adaptation during and after the events, vulnerability pre and post the event, the successes and failures of the events management, and lessons learnt. This study is one of a suite of Historical Case Studies of Extreme Events conducted under Phase 1 of the NCCARF Synthesis and Integrative Research Program to examine present-day management of climate variability and the lessons that can be learnt for adaptation to future climate change. A companion report to this factsheet can be found here

Resource Type: 
Case studies
Northern Territory
Local government
Storms, cyclones

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