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Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


The 1967 fires

The summer of 1966–67 was one of the worst ever experienced in Tasmania, particularly in the south, including Hobart. Conditions perfect for a firestorm peaked on 7 February 1967, which for the devastation wrought became known as 'Black Tuesday'. One of Australia's worst natural disasters, resulting in 62 deaths, the fire's destructive path left little unaffected, destroying schools, properties, businesses, roads, bridges and fences. Nearly 1500 homes and other buildings disappeared. The Commonwealth passed the Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief) Act 1967 to authorise financial assistance and directed the armed services to help.

Selected items relating to the 1967 fires
National Archives, Canberra
Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief) Bill 1967 – DECISION 216 (LEG), 117 and 64, 1967 A5842, 201
Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief) Bill – DECISION 240(LEG), 1967 A5842, 226
Black Tuesday (Tuesday 7th February, 1967), 1967 C475, ARCH 08F/1762
Tasmanian bush fire relief [1cm], 1967 A4940, C4513
Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief) Bill 1967 – SUBMISSION 201, 1967 A5840, 216/LEG
Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief Bill) – SUBMISSION 226, 1967 A5840, 240/LEG
Tasmanian Bush Fire Relief Fund – Australia House, 1967 A3211, 1967/1153
Tasmania Grant (Fire Relief) Act 1967 – (An Act to make provision for the grant of Financial Assistance to the State of Tasmania in relation to the Alleviation of the effects of certain Fires), 1967 A1559, 1967/31

Photographs

Fatalities aside, fires destroy livelihoods and property, some of it irreplaceable, including precious family photos. Wilderness activist and photographer Olegas Truchanas (see Chapter 9) lost his home and collection of photographs, then from somewhere found the resolve to methodically revisit the sites of the original shots to replace them.

The devastation was intensively recorded by the Australian News and Information Bureau (CA 219). The bureau had grown from a desire in the late 1940s within the Department of Information to promote the Australian lifestyle to intending post-war migrants. In the following decades, bureau photographers crisscrossed Australia recording everyday scenes of people, places, events, festivals, fauna, agriculture and industry. Inevitably the bureau covered the fires, with series A1200 and C1748 including large numbers of relevant photos.

Selected items relating to the 1967 fires
National Archives, Canberra
Photographic negatives and prints, single number series with 'L' [Library] prefix, 1911–71 A1200
Sailors from the Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Derwent rest from fighting bushfires near Hobart on Tuesday, 7 February, 1967. HMAS Derwent rushed to Hobart to help control the fires, 1967 A1200, L60764
A fish cannery burns near Hobart, 7 February, 1967 A1200, L60768
Eleven people died and 70 homes were destroyed in the township of Snug, in the bushfires which swept southern Tasmania on Tuesday, 7 February 1967, 1967 A1200, L60774
Four million beer bottles were fused into a gigantic heap when the Cascade Brewery in South Hobart was destroyed during the bushfires of Tuesday, 7 February, 1967. The Brewery was built in 1824 and was the oldest in Australia still in production, 1967 A1200, L60756
National Archives, Sydney
A mother and her daughter return to the ruins of Snug, a township near Hobart, after the disastrous bush fires of Tuesday, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60755
Sixteen homes only a mile from the Hobart General Post Office were destroyed by the bush fires, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60759
Aerial view of burning sawdust heap at the Risky Timber mill, north of Hobart, following bush fires, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60760
Natural disasters – fires – sixteen houses were destroyed in the Forest Road district of West Hobart, when bush fires engulfed much of southern Tasmania, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60761
Bush fires on 7 February, 1967 left this Post Office at Gordon, south of Hobart, a heap of twisted wreckage, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60763
The Cascade cordial factory south of Hobart was destroyed when bush fires engulfed the area, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60769
Fires – sixteen houses were destroyed in the Forest Road district of West Hobart, when bush fires engulfed much of southern Tasmania, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60770
Sixteen houses were destroyed in the Forest Road district of West Hobart, when bush fires engulfed much of southern Tasmania, 1967 C1748, NATURAL DISASTERS/L60771

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Chapter 3
Disasters