Tornado folk ‘got up and got going’

Storm damage clean-up at the Denison County Caravan Park in March last year. Picture: BEN EYLES
Storm damage clean-up at the Denison County Caravan Park in March last year. Picture: BEN EYLES

A YEAR ago today a part of Mulwala’s tourism industry was ripped apart by a freak tornado that smashed two caravan parks.

Denison County Caravan Park took the brunt of the tornado’s 300km/h force, as did the nearby Sun Country Holiday Village.

Other places affected included Yarrawonga, Barooga, Rutherglen and Koonoomoo, near Cobram.

Bundalong was another popular tourism spot hard hit and barely a house escaped damage.

Some suggestions were made that the event was actually a major storm, but Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Peter Newham said at the time that it was “definitely a tornado”.

That comment was based on radar imagery and videos and photographs, along with the extremely high wind speeds recorded.

Corowa mayor Fred Longmire remembers clearly the devastation he and other councillors saw when they toured the worst-hit areas that Friday morning of March 22.


It was only 12 hours after the tornado struck the night before, about 8pm.

Cr Longmire said there certainly “was not a weak link” in these communities as they tackled the aftermath of the disaster.

“There’s no question about it — people are resilient,” he said.

“They assess the damage, they’ll be traumatised, and they get up and get going.

“It’s a great quality of the Australian people.”

Cr Longmire spoke to The Border Mail yesterday from Mulwala, where the council has been holding a two-day workshop to set budgets and strategies.

“It was mentioned in deliberations this morning that yes, it was 12 months ago that it happened,” he said.

Cr Longmire said the 12 months had gone quickly.

A lot of teamwork went into the clean-up.

“People were anxious, which was totally understandable,” he said.

“It did take a little length of time, but people got over it and have moved on with their lives.

“I just came past Sun Country this morning and it’s refurbished and looks magnificent.”

Cr Longmire said there was still some fallen timber to be cleared at Kyffins Reserve.

“But hopefully in the winter time this year some of that will be taken care of,” he said.

Denison County has reopened with nine new cabins, a manager’s residence and a new name — DC on The Lake — though has far bigger plans in place.

About 150 sites will be sold to investors.

Cr Longmire said it had been “a very tough” journey for its co-owners Craig and Debbie O’Callaghan, exacerbated by the need to dispose of asbestos on the site.

“There was some great assistance from police and emergency services, and then the Department of Public Works came on board,” he said.

“The department pulled it together with regard to getting that asbestos cleaned up and buried.”

Contractor Zauner Construction did the $820,000 caravan park clean-up job for the department.