What was the most destructive cyclone in Australia?
Cyclone Tracy is arguably the most destructive cyclone in Australia, as it virtually wiped out the city of Darwin.
However, the cyclone which caused the highest death toll to date was Cyclone Mahina. Mahina was a category 5 cyclone which hit north Queensland on 4 March 1899. A fleet of around 100 pearling vessels was hit as it lay at anchor at Bathurst Bay. Boats were driven onto the shore or the Great Barrier Reef, killing 307 people in one fell swoop. A storm surge caused a tidal wave of about 13 - 15 metres high, which swept inland for a distance of about 5 kilometres, devastating any remnants of the Bathurst Bay pearling fleet, along with the settlement. The final death toll of between 400 and 410 included at least 100 indigenous Australians, some of whom died when they were caught by the back surge and swept into the sea while trying to help shipwrecked men.