On 20 February 1954, a tropical cyclone crossed over Coolangatta. While the cyclone occurred when weather patterns were unnamed, it was unofficially given the title The Great Gold Coast Cyclone. Serious structural damage to buildings occurred in Brisbane, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
A 0.64 m storm surge was recorded in Moreton Bay while at Beachmere the surge was much higher. Waves at Kirra brought 3 m of water onto the highway washing cars from the road.
As a result of the heavy rain, flooding which combined with the storm surge in the Nerang River caused many evacuations in the area, including people from MacIntosh Island.
Severe flooding also occurred in areas of New South Wales; Cudgen, Casino, Lismore, Murwillumbah, Grafton, Maclean, Clarence, Yamba, Kyogle and Bryon Bay.
The worst-hit areas were reported as Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, and Murwillumbah. The Richmond River rose approximately 1 m above the record 1949 flood level. Impacts to these areas included several thousand people displaced, crop and stock losses, residential and commercial premises damaged, and roads and other infrastructure destroyed.
In Byron Bay, the outer section of the jetty was swept away taking 22 vessels with it . The storm surge moved thorough Bryon Bay and flooded parts of the town.
The Bureau of Meteorology reports between 26 to 30 people died as a result of the flooding, severe winds and storm surges.