In November 1901 the village was struck by a sudden and fierce cyclone which caused a lot of destruction. The storm caused widespread damage across the Ballarat district from Sulky to Ballan. Sulky recorded the most damage:
SULKY GULLY AND DISTRICT. A SCENE OF DEVASTATION. At Sulky Gully the cyclone was responsible for a large amount of damage. It was about a quarter-past 5 when the storm started, and it raged for fully half an hour. There were many miraculous escapes from death. The full extent of the storm and the amount of damage caused to crops and tenements will not be ascertained for a day or two. Some pioneers in the district state that they have never seen such a severe storm as that which raged yesterday afternoon. The cyclone came across from the direction of Mount Hollowback, through Sulky. Judging from the track left behind, by the number of houses and trees that were swept away, it must have been a quarter of a mile wide.
Redman’s hotel was almost demolished by the severity of the storm. The roof and sides were blown off, and some of the sheets of iron from the roof were to be seen stuck in the trees a distance of nearly half a mile away. Several persons were injured, one man being so badly hurt as to necessitate his removal to the Creswick Hospital. This was accomplished by means of the coach which left Ballarat for Creswick during the afternoon.
The other hotel at Sulky, almost opposite Redman’s, known as the Waterloo hotel, was also swept away, and only the walls of one portion of the bar now remain. The roof was carried several yards away, and nearly every piece of furniture was destroyed. The trees in the neighborhood of this hotel were up rooted, and in many instances stripped to such an extent as to leave only the bare trunk. Several cattle were killed along the track of the tornado, and in many instances animals were blown into adjoining paddocks.
A wood-carter had a most miraculous escape. He was caught in the storm while driving his horse, which was attached to a cart laden with wood. The wind lifted the load bodily off the cart, and it fell on top of the horse, killing it instantaneously.
At the railway station the roof was lifted off the waiting room, and has not yet been found. A high tank, containing water, was blown from its staging at the station and lodged on to the platform. Numerous other buildings and sheds at Sulky were also razed to the ground, and many valuable horses were killed.
Mr F. Russell Coldham, the well-known barrister, was returning to Ballarat on his bicycle from Kingston, when he observed the storm approaching, and fortunately delayed his return. The Wesleyan Church at Sulky Gully had its roof badly damaged by the storm, and the first gate-house beyond Sulky Gully was stripped of its roof, and its occupants had a narrow escape. Throughout this portion of the district many railway gates were swept away, telegraph poles blown down and splintered into hundreds of pieces, while portions of Redman's building were seen on the hilltop 600 yards away.
Bullock’s Waterloo hotel is the property of Mr Walter Bradby, of Ballarat East, and was, together with the adjoining farm properties, to have been sold by public auction on Monday next. The extent of damage to Mr Bradby’s property could not last night be fully estimated. The public house is a certain loss of fully £300 and the same amount can be placed as the result of the damage done at Redman’s hotel. A resident of Ballarat named D. Brown had pulled up with his horse and cart at the Waterloo hotel just as the storm commenced. In a few seconds the verandah and front portion of the hotel swept over Mr Brown and his horse and cart. Assistance was immediately at hand, and Mr Brown fortunately escaped with a few scratches and slight shock to the system. The horse was so encased among the debris that it had to he taken out through the window-sash. Mr Wm. Uren also had a narrow escape. Whilst the storm was at its height he sought shelter in a shed, but the protection was only temporary, for two large trees fell on top of the roof. He managed to scramble out, and rolled him self along a fence, where he lay until the storm had abated. Mr Redman’s horse and dray were standing in his yard whilst the wood it contained was being unloaded. The shaft of the dray penetrated the animal and killed it. Mr Redman possessed several head of poultry, and these were killed by the severity of the storm. The roof from off the Sulky Gully station was deposited at the side of Mr Redman’s hotel, nearly half a mile distant. A large iron post, forming portion of the verandah of one of the hotels, was found nearly a mile off, bent up in all directions. Bricks from chimneys that were an easy prey to the raging storm were carried fully a mile away.
When the storm showed such devastation to property, Mr Con. Patten took his wife and another lady with two men into a passage of the Waterloo hotel, and remained there whilst the other portions of the building together with the furniture and contents of a well-kept house, were being gradually cleared off the land. Fortunately for them this passage remained intact, simply through it being shielded by a brick wall. As it was the occupants received a terrible fright which they will ever remember. The small space they occupied was barely sufficient and, strange to say, they were for some time jammed in the passage corner, without means of escape, as two doors were unable to be opened through the falling mass of timber that accumulated there. Mr Redman’s chest of drawers was like the roof, carried from the building with all its contents. Up to a late hour last night it had not been recovered. A coat belonging to the licensee, was picked up half a mile from the hotel. Mr Redman considers he had a most miraculous escape, chiefly through taking shelter under the bagatelle table in the hotel.
Mr Romeo’s house was completely wrecked, and Mr W. Martin, who was in his hut at the time the storm commenced, was, with his building and contents, taken in mid-air over a green hedge. Mr Martin received minor injuries. Many residents, upon being questioned as to the approach of the storm, state that it came very suddenly. The damage throughout the district is estimated at several thousands of pounds.
Mr Patten was at Nhill during the great storm in that township, and he states that yesterday’s cyclone was in many respects much more severe than the Nhill one.
Geography and climate
- ↑ 1901 'SULKY GULLY AND DISTRICT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 November, p. 6. , viewed 19 May 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207180831
--Beth Kicinski 09:43, 29 August 2013 (EST)