Historic Events


1989 - New South Wales - Newcastle

One of Australia's most serious natural disasters occurred on 28 December 1989 when an earthquake shook Newcastle in New South Wales, leaving 13 people dead and more than 160 injured. The damage bill has been estimated at A$4 billion, including an insured loss of more than A$1 billion. The earthquake had a magnitude of 5.6 with an epicentre about 15km south of the Newcastle central business district at an estimated depth of 11km.

The effects were felt over 200 000km2 with isolated reports of movement up to 800km from Newcastle. Damage to buildings and facilities was reported over an area extending 9 000km2. The earthquake caused damage to more than 35 000 homes, 147 schools, and 3 000 commercial and other buildings. At the height of the crisis, between 300 and 400 people were placed in temporary accommodation. In the month following the earthquake, the Disaster Welfare Recovery Centre assisted almost 14 000 people.

1987 - Northern Territory - Tennant Creek

A series of three powerful earthquakes ranging from 6.3 to 6.7 in magnitude shook the region with each occurring about half an hour apart and lasting up to 45 seconds. The main infrastructure damage was severe warping of a major natural gas pipeline as large ground ruptures occurred and a 35km long fault scarp with up to two metres vertical displacement was formed.

1979 - Western Australia - Cadoux

This 6.2 magnitude earthquake caused surface faulting, with many homes and buildings damaged or destroyed. Some buildings 180km away in Perth also sustained structural damage.

1968 - Western Australia - Meckering

Although the Meckering earthquake of October 1968 was not the largest in Western Australia's history, it was certainly the most significant in terms of damage done and cultural upheaval. It caused ground rupturing almost 40km long, some of which can still be seen.

1954 - South Australia - Adelaide

On 1 March 1954 for 20 to 30 seconds, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake resulted in three serious injuries and damage to 3 000 buildings, including collapsed and cracked walls, smashed windows and collapsed chimneys.


1941 - Western Australia - Meeberrie

The Meeberrie earthquake is Australia's most powerful known onshore Australian earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2. It was only slightly larger than the later 1968 Meckering Western Australia and 1988 Tennant Creek Northern Territory earthquakes. It was felt over a wide area of Western Australia from Port Hedland in the north to Albany and Norseman in the south.

20 000 years ago - Tasmania - Lake Edgar

Several quaternary fault scarps have been mapped in Australia during routine geological mapping. One of the most prominent scarps relates to the Lake Edgar Fault in southwest Tasmania. The 30km long north-south trending scarp occurs within the boundary of the Southwest National Park. The scarp traverses the Huon Plains and is notable because faulting resulted in the defeat of westerly flowing drainage and the consequent formation of Lake Edgar. Completed research indicates this fault scarp is the result of a magnitude 6.5 to 7.0 earthquake.