Sometimes memorable for all the wrong reasons, mention the year 1974 to any Australian and you’re more than likely going to hear a wide variety of stories or anecdotes regarding the weather.
1974 is notably infamous for 2 particularly devastating weather systems. In December, cyclone Tracy tore through Darwin causing 71 deaths and over $800 million in damage.
Earlier that year in Queensland, cyclone Wanda crossed the coast on January 24th, North of Brisbane and caused an already rain drenched area to become drastically flooded. Moving down the Upper Brisbane River, the flooding eventually broke the banks and rose over many streets, houses and businesses in Ipswich and Brisbane’s outer suburbs and its CBD.
One business notably affected was the then 5 year old Royal on the Park Hotel (known then as the Parkroyal). Located adjacent the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the ‘Royals’ vicinity to the Brisbane river would have the flood effect it dramatically. Guests evacuating through the hotel’s lobby had to wade through debris laden water 170 centimetres deep, with many opting to carry their luggage over their heads, and honeymooning grooms their new wives.
In the first few weeks of February the waters subsided, leaving in its wake mud, mortalities and memories. In subsequent years flood mitigation systems were developed to prevent or at least minimise damage done by another anomalous wet period. Opinion is tenuous as to whether these systems worked, as seen in January 2011 when another record flood was to hit the Brisbane river and the ‘Royal’. With no water entering the building this time, the ‘Royal’ was spared with only car park and pool damage. Sadly many others were not so fortunate.
The ‘Royal on the Park Hotel’ remembers and offers its deepest respects and sympathies to the loved ones of those affected and lost in both the 1974 and 2011 floods.