The ‘Pasha Bulker’ Storm – June 2007

Most people in Newcastle and the Hunter were looking forward to a relaxing long weekend, planning a few days off. As we now know it was anything but a relaxing long weekend.

The Newcastle and Hunter Region will never forget the weekend when storms and floods closed down the heart of Newcastle, the Pasha Bulker went aground on Nobbys Beach and the levee system around Maitland was pushed to its limit.

On Thursday night, June 7, 2007, the Bureau of Meteorology warned of potential extreme weather conditions with a low pressure cell developing just north of Newcastle.

Over the next 12 hours this low generated gale force south easterlies that buffeted the city until midday on Friday, June 8, redeveloping in the middle of the afternoon as a line of thunderstorms that ceaselessly battered Newcastle throughout the evening, causing life threatening flash flooding in low lying area.

There was disastrous damage caused by the flooding but more was to come. At 2am on Saturday, June 9, a second low hit the city.

A family of four and a nephew were killed when a section of road collapsed under their car as they drove along the Pacific Highway at Somersby on the Central Coast. Two people died when their four-wheel drive was swept off a bridge by floodwaters at Clarence Town and a man died near Lambton when he was swept into a storm-water drain.

The following day, a man died when a tree fell onto his vehicle at Brunkerville. Another man died during a house fire that, it is believed, was started by a candle being used during the blackouts caused by the storm. The total death toll rose to ten.

The ABC Newcastle documentary is available below.

Medical Journal of Australia – Mitigating the health impacts of a natural disaster.

CoastalWatch – Analysis of a storm