Title Details

When Will the Birds Return

The devastation of Darwin in the early days following the strike of Cyclone Tracy, Christmas Day 1974.
Year : 1975 | Total Duration : 50 Minutes | Producer : Peter Johnson, John Carter
Director : Bob Kingsbury, Brian Hannant, Greg Reading, John Shaw, Norman Godbold, David Haythornthwaite, John Noble (2nd Unit Direction) |
CU interview with man in cowboy hat with cigarette intercut with CUs of middle aged woman with them both talking about their reactions and general reactions to the approach of Cyclone Tracy and their reactions and reflections since. CUs of man smoking and to ashtray. Opening titles. Pans across trees stripped of their branches, metal and debris on ground and general devastation following Cyclone Tracy.
Access No. 124248 | 12 mins 3 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Zoom out from CU of chicken to building ruins with the whole area covered in debris in the suburb of Casuarina. Street sign for Trower Street at base of pole with tilt to leaning telegraph pole. Slow low angle track past building debris, bent iron and household contents on ground. CUs and tracks of items on ground. Pan of devastation.
Access No. 126806 | 1 min 19 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU middle aged woman in sunglasses crying, saying that she's crying for Darwin (after Cyclone Tracy). CU man with moustache becoming distressed as he talks about his family sheltering whilst roof blew off home. MS two women embracing in street as other hurry by. CU young girl crying and zoom out to gathered families guided by man with loud hailer. VS family receiving assistance.
Access No. 126807 | 2 mins 28 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
High angle shot over empty swimming pool and debris. Zoom out and pans over kilometres of damaged buildings following Cyclone Tracy. High shots over household contents from kitchens, bedrooms etc. High shot pans over bicycles on ground and GS over man sorting through papers. CU same man talking about the approach of the cyclone, talking to his family in Melbourne and about finding his parents safe. POV tracking from car past devastated homes.
Access No. 126808 | 1 min 52 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS Director of Natural Disasters Organisation Major General Alan Stretton speaking into microphone in front of destroyed Law Courts introducing himself and talking about arriving in Darwin in RAAF aircraft in the difficult conditions of Cyclone Tracy then going to police station. Blue NT Bus Service buses waiting outside railway station as residents carrying suitcases walk towards building.
Access No. 126809 | 43 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Pan of damaged building roof down to young people listening to man seated on ground playing sitar. MS of people listening and CU's of faces both black and white and to luggage bands around wrists indicating cities to which the wearers are being evacuated to following Cyclone Tracy. MS people climbing into transport aircraft. Track past many displaced people including children and Aboriginal people waiting on tarmac of airport.
Access No. 126810 | 1 min 3 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS man calling out names from list (names of people made homeless after Cyclone Tracy). CU woman wiping tears and girls hugging mother. Salvation Army officers handing out refreshments and drinks to displaced people leaving in bus and in shelters. Men loading suitcases onto back of open truck. GS pregnant woman seated with toddler. CUs man reading newspaper with the headline ÒMy God, Hiroshima!Ó.
Access No. 126811 | 37 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS young Aboriginal boys at airport tarmac waiting to be evacuated after Cyclone Tracy. VS of refugees at airport standing and waving. CU mother and toddler, elderly Muslim woman. Low angle track of people walking across tarmac with belongings. Small girl sitting against suitcase holding doll. Pans of families seated waiting to be evacuated including babies in carry cots. CU of Adelaide address written on bare skin of toddler with MS of her mother talking about being advised to do so and why.
Access No. 126812 | 53 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
GS woman wiping down crying toddler in flooded site. MS mother talking about sheltering from cyclone and the ceiling falling on their heads. VS man with loud hailer on airport tarmac calling for refugees from Cyclone Tracy going to Adelaide or Melbourne. VS crowds waiting. CU woman with baby in carrier on her back standing in crowd talking to interviewer about how she and her family protected themselves during the cyclone and that they were the lucky ones. CU children next to her, she talks about problem with water for the babies.
Access No. 126813 | 1 min 13 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
GS man with bandaged foot helped along by man on one side and crying woman on the other. Zoom out from man having his foot bandaged. MS man with loud hailer on airport tarmac calling for displaced people travelling to Perth after Cyclone Tracy. Policeman helping to guide people. VS around groups of women and children waiting to be evacuated, seated on steps, preparing to move, suitcases loaded onto trolley, woman holding toddler, woman seated on damaged car giving baby drink from carton.
Access No. 126814 | 32 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Interview with woman in headscarf with her children talking about her underestimation of the damage a cyclone could cause. Families carrying bags walking across airport tarmac queuing to enter Ansett aircraft. CU red Ansett logo. Queue of people up steps of of aircraft and families into hold of aircraft. Man holding toddler and comforting his crying heavily pregnant wife. Man comforts other children, crying as he helps them onto plane.
Access No. 126816 | 1 min 22 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Zoom out to high angle shot over rows of suitcases in aircraft hangar belonging to refugees of Cyclone Tracy. HAS women in white uniforms sorting through clothes. CU interview with woman in hairband and sun glasses holding child talking about the positive side of going to Sydney and being able to show children that the whole world hadn't collapsed in a cyclone.
Access No. 126817 | 17 secs | 1970s | Sydney, NSW Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Various CU interviews with evacuees responding to whether they will return to Darwin after it recovers from Cyclone Tracy. One woman talks about her mother being evacuated three times, man talks about thinking that he was dying, woman talking about hiding under bed and singing carols, two Aboriginal women saying Darwin is great place where there is no segregation. Zoom in to young Aboriginal girl.
Access No. 126818 | 1 min 15 secs | 1970s | Brisbane, Qld, and Darwin, NT Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Interviews with evacuees talking about Cyclone Tracy and VS around Darwin city pre cyclone. VS people walking past buildings. CU Australian flag flying, statue of man pointing and pan to damaged trees. Track street POV car past people walking along streets of Darwin (prior to cyclone)? and then track past as it looks after Cyclone Tracy with tangled wreckage and upturned cars. POV car track past homes on stilts amongst trees prior to cyclone. POV track past wreckage and ruined buildings.
Access No. 126819 | 1 min | 1970s | Darwin, NT and Sydney, NSW, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU woman's face with gash above eyebrow as she talks about getting rid of tin roofs as they caused most devastation during Cyclone Tracy. Track down Darwin street prior to cyclone and POV track past ruined buildings including ruins with household appliances exposed in shells of buildings. MS damaged Shell road sign to Katherine.
Access No. 126835 | 21 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
POV from moving vehicle travelling along road towards and past queue of traffic including Kombi vans at roadblock on the road south out of Darwin. GS policeman stopping cars amd MS interview with policeman talking about catching looters as being one of the reasons for roadblocks. Several men arrested for looting accompanied by policemen out of damaged Law Courts building.
Access No. 126836 | 45 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Hand held camera past shopkeeper with goods set up on table outside shop after Cyclone Tracy and sign warning that looters will be shot. MS policeman at roadblock talking about its positioning. GS car pulling caravan past camera stopping at roadblock and policeman inspecting inside of caravan. MS interview with policeman. MS truck driver being questioned by police at roadblock and surrendering his gun.
Access No. 126837 | 1 min 30 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS officer talking about organised looting following Cyclone Tracy. Pans across damaged shop fronts with broken windows and exposed goods. VS remaining shelves from Chemist shop with piles of medication littering ground. Man talking about police and firearms. Door with writing on it stating ÒOccupied Trespassers ShotÓ.
Access No. 126838 | 59 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
VS police and Cyclone Tracy rescue workers at outdoor kitchen. CU's food, men eating, relaxing, chatting, smoking, looking tired. MS back of man in Police Rescue overalls. MS women preparing food and CUs of police epaulettes with insignias from ACT, NSW, Victoria, and Commonwealth forces. CU senior police officer talking into microphone briefing line of dishevelled policemen and volunteers and VS men. CU officer talking about the sadness in seeing Christmas decorations and presents in devestated homes after cyclone.
Access No. 126839 | 1 min 18 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU artificial Christmas tree amongst broken remains of home destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. Exposed contents of homes including open refrigerator amongst rubble of devestated houses. CU abandoned cat meowing amongst strewn possessions with VS of everyday possessions scattered throughout wreckage. VS police searching through possessions and under building rubble. Senior police officer saying they despair every day.
Access No. 126840 | 46 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU sign 'The Fallen Inn' and resident chatting to policeman about looking through rubble and taking in injured people after Cyclone Tracy hit. VS police searching through remains of homes. WS Darwin High School with pan to displaced residents with suitcases gathered outside building waiting for evacuation after Cyclone. MS women and children being helped onto bus. GS people queuing for bus and VS women at desk taking details of evacuees. Senior Victoria police officer saying he was in Darwin on holiday when cyclone hit and the ensuing problems with communication.
Access No. 126841 | 2 mins 28 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU Senior Victoria police officer talking about outdoor kitchens having to feed 2000 displaced people per meal after Cyclone Tracy. VS meals being prepared CU officer talking about various centres being set up to provide for the refugees from Cyclone Tracy. CU to money on street with feet walking over the coins highlighting the it's current redundency. VS boxes of provisions in 'supermarket' warehouse and people being given supplies. GS man grappling with box of Coca Cola cans.
Access No. 126843 | 1 min 16 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
VS signs and notices for people following Cyclone Tracy including information for people leaving Darwin, sign for Sunday mass, evacuation procedures, injections for typhoid. Injured man being carried into building. Man having wound on back treated, nurse preparing to give typhoid injection. Two doctors talking about how many people they will have to treat.
Access No. 126844 | 42 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
City skyline pan to high angle shot and VS of evacuees from Cyclone Tracy waiting to get on buses. High angle shots of people with suitcases waiting about. Policeman in warehouse talking into loudhailer to group of workers about evacuation. CUs of various faces. CU to car radio with official announcement by Director Natural Disasters Organisation Major General Alan Stretton be listened to by small crowd around car including cameramen. VS of those listening.
Access No. 126845 | 1 min 8 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Queue of Cyclone Tracy evacuees on airport tarmac ready to board aircraft. People board plane. Tails of aircraft showing Qantas and Ansett logos and people boarding. Car radio broadcasting evacuation update. Prime Minster Gough Whitlam in patterned shirt with others on tarmac after arriving in Darwin and being driven away in car. US Air Force aircraft, evacuees waiting to board aircraft. Serviceman holding baby.
Access No. 126846 | 1 min 2 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
VS officials processing papers at desks with fans. Tired policeman talking at desk. Pan across rubble from Cyclone Tracy to graffiti on wall reading ÒI'm coming backÓ. Zoom to red flag in wind for Darwin Citadel. High shot over Salvation Army officer handing out clothing supplies. Zoom out to VS of people selecting shoes and goods in warehouse. CU Salvation Army sign. Car driving past rubble with graffiti Xmas Tracy 1974 written on it. Two men showering under hose amongst rubble. High angle track past people queuing for ice. VS people with esky boxes. VS bags of ice and cartons of milk being handed out.
Access No. 126847 | 1 min 47 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
WS sign for Darwin Communication Building (after Cyclone Tracy) with tilt up to handwritten sign for telegrams. CU sign about restrictions on telephone calls. MS two young women at telephone boxes talking to camera about current living conditions and restrictions predicting troubled times ahead with tempers fraying. Pan to men at telephone box getting impatient.
Access No. 126848 | 41 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Exposed kitchen in ruined house and zoom to two men up telegraph pole fixing wires after Cyclone Tracy. Interview with one man talking as he works saying they are from the Blue Mountains (NSW) and about how affected he felt seeing children herded up for evacuation. He also reports that the overhead wires for the northern part of Darwin would not be replaced for some time. Second worker expressing surprise at the extent of damage caused by the cyclone.
Access No. 126849 | 1 min 6 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
VS people filling cars at petrol pumps and VS cars queuing outside petrol stations. CUs to cars and caravans with Cyclone Tracy related slogans painted on them. CU police sticker on car door. Pan from Datsun poster to VS of car yard with badly damaged cars after Cyclone Tracy, poles collapsed over cars and in showroom etc. POV car travelling behind badly damaged caravan being towed. Car along road south of Darwin travelling towards camera with tyres on roof rack.
Access No. 126850 | 40 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
GS people smoking in parked car at road block on road south of Darwin to Alice Springs after Cyclone Tracy. GS drivers talking to police and officials. CU of red flashing light at side of road with low angle shots of cars passing. High shot 4WD towing trailer then zoom out to other vehicles in Alice Springs. GS damaged car with crumpled roof being driven,men covering broken windscreen with plastic. Refugees from Darwin including Aboriginal people inside building talking to officials. GS people with suitcases waiting.
Access No. 126851 | 53 secs | 1970s | Alice Springs, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU mayor of Alice Springs talking to camera talking about supplies being flown to Darwin after Cyclone Tracy appeal. Pan from twin propellar planes on tarmac to aircraft landing at Alice Springs. Zoom WS Alice Springs Airport and queues of evacuees from Darwin walking onto tarmac to waiting aircraft. GS people queuing to board bus. CU mayor to camera talking about money raised by Alice Springs community.
Access No. 126852 | 50 secs | 1970s | Alice Springs, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU evacuee from Darwin following Cyclone Tracy talking to camera about assistance he received as he travelled through Katherine by car. People walking alongside train at Alice Springs station. VS of families boarding. Zoom to men positioning damaged van onto trailer. WS fork lift truck depositing caravan onto trailer. Red Commonwealth Railways train past camera carrying various vehicles on carriage behind.
Access No. 126853 | 47 secs | 1970s | Alice Springs, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
WS badly damaged telegraph poles from Cyclone Tracy at various stages of collapse. VS workers repairing lines with crane, VS hammering, lighting blow torch and welding. Tilts to damaged Headquarters Civil Defence and Emergency Services building and CU uprooted sign. Building interior with MS of man in helmet from Civil Defence on telephone requesting fork lift. Pan to poster on wall reading Òcyclones are killersÓ.
Access No. 126854 | 51 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU welding torch with zoom out to people working on crumpled metal tower blown into house during Cyclone Tracy. CU with worker talking to camera about extent of damage. VS repairs, machine lifting tangled metal. VS women talking and joking with workers and camera. GS hand written sign ÒHeartbreak Hotel, No VacanciesÓ. Interior shot with MS of men at desk broadcasting messages into two way radio. Pan to artificial Christmas tree.
Access No. 126855 | 1 min 44 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS young policeman talking to group about how payments will be made via social services following Cyclone Tracy. Pan along people waiting outside building in casual queue. Inside building, casually dressed policeman guiding people into queue, one policeman carrying in crying child to join mother. CUs woman at desk questioning elderly man. VS woman at desk handing out cash payment and tilt to drawer full of bundles of banknotes. Pan across blackboard with colourful chalk drawing of Christmas scene.
Access No. 126856 | 1 min 6 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
VS low flying light aircraft over rooftops and traffic in damaged city of Darwin following Cyclone Tracy. Air to air shot over light aircraft spraying damaged buildings and fields to avoid outbreak of disease. Aerials over the devastation city showing badly damaged buildings including large areas where buildings are now merely debris. Aerials over warships at sea and in harbour. Low aerial pan over aircraft carrier with helicopter.
Access No. 126857 | 1 min 30 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
RAN helicopter at airfield, blades turning watched by naval officers. Tilt up officers dressed from white shoes and socks up. VS naval officer talking to group of rescue workers after Cyclone Tracy. VS workers rummaging through remains of homes removing contents from refrigerators and freezers and burying them in ground along with workers' gloves. Leader telling men to wash hands.
Access No. 126858 | 1 min 42 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
CU fireman talking to camera saying that after the first few days of inoperation following Cyclone Tracy the men got things cleaned up and workable again pointing camera to hand painted sign on corrugated iron building reading ÒBusiness as usualÓ with hole cut in metal for enquiries. CUs firemen talking about helping schools and carrying out other duties. GS graffiti on house wreckage reading ÒHappy New Year 1975Ó and ÒA Merry Cyclone ChristmasÓ.
Access No. 126859 | 53 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Track walking with boy riding bicycle past wreckage of Cyclone Tracy describing how he woke to open his Christmas presents at midnight then later in the night his room was flooded and goes on to describe how his family sheltered but found their house was wrecked. He points to the remains of his school and says he doesn't think he'll go back for 2 years.
Access No. 126860 | 1 min 5 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Interview with young teenager to camera saying he was woke on the night of Cyclone Tracy by water soaking his bed and strong winds and how nightmare-likeit was. Younger boy on bicycle on saying a lot of his friends have left. Older boy says he is really bored. Younger boy says he enjoys riding his bike. Each talk about minding their houses from looting and returning to Darwin.
Access No. 126861 | 1 min 6 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
Tilt and pan to builders hammering timbers onto roof following Cyclone Tracy. Fork lift truck carrying sheets of corrugated iron. Zoom to men fixing telegraph poles, one in container attached to crane. WS of line of telegraph poles running through devestated area. VS wreckage being cleared with bulldozers and large trucks. Zoom into Christmas tree inside wrecked home.
Access No. 126862 | 1 min 13 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |
MS man in stetson sitting at outdoor table in wrecked garden speaking passionately about how difficult it is to describe what happened to Darwin from Cyclone Tracy and talking about clearing up the town. High angle WS over roadblock and zoom out to graffiti on road saying ÒThanks you Aussie.Ó MS distressed family embracing at airfield.
Access No. 136901 | 2 mins 4 secs | 1970s | Darwin, NT, Australia | © NFSA | Colour |