Cape York, Queensland, March 1899

Cyclone Mahina, 1899

Quick Statistics

307 Fatalities

On 4th and 5th March 1899 a category five cyclone hit Bathurst Bay with winds reaching approximately 260 km per hour.  There was one eye-witness estimate of a storm surge measuring 13m at Ninian Bay adjacent to Barrow Point 30 km south of Bathurst Bay. Recently, researchers have found historical evidence to suggest that such a low-pressure system, capable of producing a sea-water inundation of 13 metres, was infact possible.

At Bathurst Bay, near Princess Charlotte Bay (Cape York) at least 307 crew members died from a pearling fleet of over 100 vessels plus other craft (with 152 sunk or wrecked, some found kilometres inland) as a result of the storm surge.


B. Fraser, Macquarie book of events, 1984, p 573
J. Nott, and M. Hayne, ‘How high was the storm surge from tropical Cyclone Mahina? North Queensland, 1899’, (2000) 15 Australian Journal of Emergency Management 11
J. Nott, C. Green, I. Townsend and J. Callaghan, ‘The world record storm surge and the most intense Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone: New evidence and modelling’, American Meteorological Society, May 2014.
National Museum of Australia “Defining moments: Cyclone Mahina” , website viewed 13/01/2021
“Northern Hurricane,” Telegraph, 20 April 1899, p. 2.
 “Return of the Warrego,” Queenslander, 25 March 1899, p. 545.
Sydney Morning Herald, 17 March 1899, p. 4.
“The Hurricane. A Colored Man’s Bravery,” North Queensland Register, 20 March 1899, p. 14.
I. Townsend, 2020. A Perfect Storm. In Disasters in Australia and New Zealand. Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 119–136.