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Darwin wiped out by Tracy, the killer cyclone

A Darwin Christmas

(transcript- these audio vignettes were aired on News Radio KOTA in Rapid City South Dakota)

It’s time to join with that old crooner Bing Crosby and start singing and humming “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” There are Christmas lights and decorations popping up all over the place. And it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Hi, I’m Michael, the Aussie Coffee Guy from Essence of Coffee.

This morning’s musing is not so much about coffee though it has coffee significance for me and more about my Christmas story. Christmas 1974 was perhaps one of my most memorable Christmas’s I can remember. It was the year I left school and started working, it was the year my coffee journey began and it was the year that changed the direction of my life. Yes, this all happened at Christmas time.

So to go back a few years, I was born at a very early age so began life at a disadvantage, oh, sorry that’s too far back. As a kid, I went to 9 schools in 10 years of schooling. So school was not a highlight for me. The subject I excelled at was truancy – I knew how to play hooky. So, between my truancy officer and a careers counselor, I was directed around Christmas 1974 to an apprenticeship.

Since I was now a fully-fledged working man, my mother allowed me to drink coffee – though coffee in our house was an Australian version of Folger’s. Instant coffee was my first experience and it worked well back then. We lived in northern Australia in the tropical city of Darwin next to crocodile Dundees stomping grounds in Arnhem Land. This was also a tropical cyclone country – cyclone is Australian for a hurricane.

Christmas was cyclone season and we were warned of a cyclone named Tracy bearing down on us with the intent to visit us on Christmas eve. So we battened down while preparing for our Christmas celebration.

Being a working man, I had money to spend on gifts for the family, and one of those gifts a music box for my sister was memorable. Mum prepared the turkey and set it on the open oven door ready to be cooked in the morning.

We all headed off to bed but around one in the morning- things began to happen. The floor began to flood as the water pushed in under the doors. There was lots of banging and noise, lots of noise. Anyway, to cut a short story long our cyclone-proof double brick house was mocked by Tracy as she completely demolished it. The roof blew off, the walls fell in on us and we spent the next 6 hours huddled in a small passageway under the rubble.

The word best describes that experience – other than terrifying – was noise, lots of noise.

Finally, the cyclone abated, morning came and we crawled out from the rubble – shaken but not stirred. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and Darwin had disappeared. Our house was destroyed, our car had been taken by the wind, a refrigerator was sitting ten feet up in a tree but the turkey was still sitting on the oven door just waiting to be cooked.

My sister’s music box, was a little crushed by the wall that fell on it but it still worked – it was a bird in a cage. When the door was opened it swung back and forth whistling “raindrops keep falling on my head.”

Well, they certainly did that Christmas eve. So, I don’t like storms, but I still love Christmas.

Remember that at Essence, we have some great gift ideas for the coffee lover in your life and we hope you relax into this wonderful Christmas season.


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