50th anniversary of Cyclone Ada: A monument has been created to honour those who perished and is being kept under wraps until the memorial service, on Saturday.
50th anniversary of Cyclone Ada: A monument has been created to honour those who perished and is being kept under wraps until the memorial service, on Saturday.

Under wraps: Handcrafted Cyclone Ada monument to be revealed

A MONUMENT created to honour the victims who perished in Cyclone Ada is being kept under wraps until the memorial service, on Saturday.

The monument, hand crafted by local stonemason Mark Harris, will be revealed during the service and there will be a special dedication by Father Bill Busuttin.

Mr Harris, from Bloomsbury, has been putting his skills to good use in the region for many years including building stone walls and features at Laguna Quays Resort, Midge Point, Horizons, Airlie Beach, and The Lakes, in Cannonvale.

This job was special however, and Mr Harris was proud to create a tribute to the 14 victims of Cyclone Ada, which ripped through the region on Saturday, January 17, and Sunday, January 18, 1970.

“It’s important – I was very proud to be able to do it,” Mr Harris, who has been a stonemason for 33 years, said.

“It’s good to have something to remind people.”

The monument – which will be revealed in a special service on the Airlie Foreshore, on Saturday, at 2pm – is 1.7 metres high and made from river rock.

“We hand picked the rocks to get the best ones – they don’t come on pallets from Bunnings, we have to go out and find them. We pick them out at local quarries.”

There are four, granite in-lays on the monument, with a short story about the cyclone and the names of the people who died.

“It’s wider at the bottom (one metre) than the top (700mm) – it looks like a lighthouse. It looks good - I’m very pleased.”

The monument took Mr Harris a whole week to create.

“Once you’ve built it, you then have to acid wash it and put sealer on it – it takes a bit of time,” he said.

The Cyclone Ada Memorial Committee approached Mr Harris some time ago with their wishes.

“They had a drawing of what they wanted and I went off that and we worked together on it.

“I did a couple of different plans and they said which one they wanted and that was it.”

Mr Harris is now 56 and is teaching his skills to his son Gerrard, 28, who has been working with him for about five years and helped build the monument.

The Cyclone Ada monument has been made possible through funding from Whitsunday Regional Council.


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