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A cyclone destroyed Ian’s pub. A warming climate could mean more are on their way

Publican Ian Trevarton is daunted by the task ahead; rebuilding his historic Railway Tavern in Northampton, almost 500 kilometers north of Perth. The town was in the direct path of tropical cyclone Seroja in April, and what remains of his restored pub is a shattered ruin and a damage bill of more than $1 million. I can’t see the pub reopening for at least 12 months; it will be a long haul,” Mr. Trevarton tells SBS.

You look at it now, and it’s unfortunate.

The tavern’s roof is completely gone, the interior bar has exposed beams, and the cyclone’s force has shredded walls.

Ian Trevarton inspects the damage to his tavern.

SBS Aaron Fernandes

Mr. Trevarton had spent the past 16 years restoring the 1876 building to its original state, replacing timbers and painting the interior in traditional colors. Born in Cornwall in the UK, the 75-year-old migrated to Australia in 1974 and was sheltering inside the bar with his wife Kelly when the cyclone landed on Sunday, 11 April.


They consider themselves lucky to have survived.

“I could hear the verandahs going first,” Mr. Trevarton says. “The noise was unbelievable; it sounded like a freight train. “Then the whole roof section of the bar went up and down. Then I saw the ceiling lift and said to my wife, ‘I think we had better get out of here now.’ They huddled further inside the old building as the storm rolled through. It would leave 30,500 residents without power.

The Railway Tavern’s damaged bar.

SBS Aaron Fernandes


Like a bomb had gone off

“This is a part of Western Australia that doesn’t typically see these kinds of weather systems,” Jonathan How from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says. So most structures are not built to withstand winds of 170 kilometers an hour.” The last similar event was tropical cyclone Hazel, which landed in 1979, causing $20 million of damage.

“There were many surprising features of Seroja,” Mr. How says.

“As it moved south from Timor, it interacted with [tropical cylone] Odette, and this is a phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara effect, which we don’t see very often. “The two cyclones spun around each other, and we saw Seroja head further south than it would have otherwise.”

Ian Trevarton at his Northampton tavern.

SBS Aaron Fernandes

For those who lived through it, haunting memories remain.

“After the storm passed, we went outside to look at the damage. It was horrendous – like a bomb had gone off, really,” Mr. Trevarton says. “The verandahs were gone, the roof was gone, the tin had all gone; it was amazing. I could not believe that much destruction.” Many farmers were also impacted. The Simpson family in Northampton lost two of their three farmhouses and sheds, and equipment.

Harley Simpson estimates their loss at $1.5 million.

Farmer Harley Simpson at his Northampton property.

SBS Aaron Fernandes

“Every corner you turn, you find some more damage. So it will be a few months before we get on top of it,” he says.

The family of six sheltered in the bathroom with their dog as powerful winds howled past.

“The rain was pouring through the window, and that’s when my oldest son started to get upset and cried and asked if we were going to die,” Michaela Simpson says.

Michaela Simpson at a wrecked farmhouse on the property.

SBS Aaron Fernandes

It couldn’t have been worse timing,” Mr. Simpson says. “We started seeding canola a few weeks ago, and we are finding it too hard to clear up the paddocks while trying to plant. Stockpiles of fertilizer were also damaged by torrential rain.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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