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Which Event Killed The Most Aussies?

What has been the worst disaster in modern Aussie history?

Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains, of bushfires, cyclones and some of the world’s most dangerous animals. 

 There have been a few events in modern history that have caused widespread devastation and fatalities in Australia. 

10.  The sinking of the Dutch ship Zuytdorp.

The Dutch East India Company ship was dispatched from the Netherlands on the 1st of August 1711. It was holding a load of freshly minted silver coins to take to the trading port of Batavia, now Jakarta, Indonesia. The Ship never made to its destination and sank. Historians believe the ship sank during a violent storm. It killed 286 people.

9. The heatwave of 2009

During the months of January and February in 2009, a nine-day heatwave in Adelaide was responsible for the death of 374 Australians and sparked the infamous Black Saturday bushfires.

8.  The shipwreck Cataraqui

Considered Australia’s worst ever maritime civil disaster. The British barque ship sank off the south-west Coast of King Island in the Bass Strait. The ship departed from Liverpool on the 20th of April 1845, reaching the bass strait on the 4th of August. The ship was thrown onto jagged rocks just off Fitzmaurice Bay in King Island, near Tasmania, claiming the lives of 400 people.

7.  Cyclone Mahina

The massive cyclone is the deadliest cyclone ever recorded in Australian history. It whipped through Bathurst Bay, Cape York on the 4th of March, 1899. Mahina is believed to be the most intense cyclones ever observed in the Southern hemisphere. The cyclone is estimated to have killed 410 Aussies.

Image: February 1, 2011, Cyclone Yasi, NASA

6. Heatwave of 1895

Another heatwave during the years 1895-1896, caused devastating damage, killing 437 people across Australia.

5. Heatwave in Victoria

December 1938 to February 1939, a heatwave killed 438 people in Victoria and triggered the Black Friday bushfire which is among the worst natural wildfires in the world to date. It burned 20,000 km² of land across Victoria. Over 1,300 homes, 69 sawmills and 3,700 other buildings were destroyed.

Image: Bushfires in Australia, National Geographic

4. Bubonic plague

The outbreak of the deadly bubonic plague ripped through the Aussie population between 1900 and 1910. The bacterial disease which presents itself with flu-like symptoms, causes the lymph nodes to swell ans become painful, often causing them to break open. The painful disease was responsible for killing 550 deaths across Australia.

3. Battle of the HMAS Sydney and the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran.

The battle occurred just off the coast of Western Australia on the 19th of November 1941. The duel, which lasted just half an hour, destroyed both ships. While 318 of 399 of the Kormoran's crew survived, nobody survived from HMAS Sydney, 645 Australian sailors died that day.

2.  Polio

Polio attacks muscles and leaves victims unable to move, often resulting in death. The epidemic ravaged Australia between 1946 and 1955 wiped out 1013 Australians.

Image: A man infected with polio as a child begs on a street,  PHOTOGRAPH BY IBARRA SANCHEZ, THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

1.    Flu pandemic.

The 1918 Australian Flu Pandemic was an unusually strong pandemic of the H1N1 influenza virus. It affected 500 million people worldwide, killing three to five percent of the world’s population. It has been named one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. It was responsible for the death of more than 12,000 Aussies between 1918 and 1920.


Lead Image: Cyclone Debbie, NASA

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