CPR First Aid

What Natural Disasters Happen in Australia?

What Natural Disasters Happen in Australia

Healthdirect, a health information service the government funds, lists the natural disasters in Australia, including heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, floods, storms, tropical cyclones, and others. Most of these occur more often in certain areas and some left historical damage. But, local governments provide early warnings, resources, and support. Preparation for first aid and evacuation also helps in case of an emergency. Read further to learn how you may prepare for a natural disaster. 

What Natural Disasters Happen in Australia?

The following calamities have occurred in Australia and may happen again.

Australia faces recurring calamities like bushfires, floods, cyclones, and droughts.

Heatwaves and Bushfire

The National Museum of Australia defines heatwaves as three or more days of maximum and minimum temperatures being unusually high. It’s common during summer from December to February and the government warns people about heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, dehydration, cramps, and others. An extreme heat wave raises the risk of bushfires which requires people living near flammable vegetation to evacuate. 

The Australian Geographic’s list of the worst bushfires in Australia’s history mentions those that occurred in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Melbourne, Tasmania, and Warburton.

Using sun-protection items and preparing a bushfire emergency kit may help prevent the effects of heatwave and be ready for possible evacuations. 


The Bureau of Meteorology describes droughts as an acute water shortage and states that Australia is prone to them due to the country’s geography. The government agency considers it as the most feared and costly climate challenge in the country. Severe droughts affect parts of Australia about once every 18 years. 

The historical droughts occurred in Eastern Australia, Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Southern Australia, Tasmania, and Northern Australia.

The website of the NSW government has a guide on preparing for a drought which includes planning tools, resources, strategies, and recommendations for creating an action plan.


Unfortunately, Healthdirect considers floods as part of life in Australia which may increase the risk of injuries, infections, and challenges in access to needs. According to The Bureau of Meteorology, floods may happen shortly after rainfall or up to months. It depends on the size of the nearby river and the length of rainfall. For instance, riverine floods may happen shortly after a rainfall while river floods may occur after days to months of rain falling.

Riverine flooding may affect inland parts of Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia for weeks or months at a time.

If you live in flood-prone areas, it may be ideal to collect first aid tools when preparing for a flood.

Severe Storms and Tropical Cyclones

Australia’s official tropical cyclone season is from November to April which also imposes risk to the people’s health. Most cyclones occurred in Northwest Australia, Western Australia, coastal areas of the Northern Territory, Queensland, Maryborough, and up to the northeast coast.

Always monitor the government’s weather updates and storm warnings so you may prepare ahead. Flood preparation is also important which comprises creating a flood plan, setting up a first aid kit, stocking emergency items, and arranging your pets and property.


The Australian Climate Service states that there are an average of 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or more every year in the country. Earthquakes above magnitude 5.0 occur on average every one-to-two years and magnitude 6.0 or more occurs about every 10 years. The most destructive earthquakes occurred in New South Wales and Western Australia. 

Earthquakes are unpredictable but whenever you feel them, find cover, stay away from possible falling objects, wait, and call 000 for any injuries.


As per the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, Australia experiences a tsunami once every four years. The Bureau of Meteorology’s report shows that the largest tsunami occurred along the northwest coast of Western Australia. The smaller-scale tsunamis happened in NSW, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia.

The website of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience contains a handbook for Tsunami Emergency Planning in Australia Handbook. It may be helpful to those living near the shoreline.


The Get Ready Queensland website states that landslides damage many houses, buildings, roads, railways, and other infrastructures every year in Australia. Two of the most lethal landslides happened in New South Wales and Tasmania.

The same resource outlines the steps to reduce the impact of landslides which include having a plan, packing supplies, and making sure you are insurance covered. It’s also ideal to contact your local council about previous landslides that happened in your area.

What Were the Worst Natural Disasters in Australia?

The table below shows the deadliest natural disaster that happened in the country.

Natural Disaster Date Area Affected Impact
Heatwave January 2019 New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory Heatwave soaring up to 49C at more than 10 places around Australia
Bushfire February 7, 2009 Victoria -The area burned was greater than 4,500 square kilometers

-Destroyed 2,029 homes

-Killed 173 people

Drought 1895 to 1902 New South Wales and Queensland -Australia lost more than 40 percent of its cattle

-Broke up the huge farms

-Economic depression

-Labour strike

Flood 1852 Gundagai Between 80 and 100 people died
Storm/Cyclone March 1899 Princess Charlotte Bay on Cape York Peninsula 400 people died
Earthquake 1988 Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory An estimated magnitude of 6.6
Tsunami July 2006 Steep Point in Western Australia Elevation about sea level was 7.9m
Landslide 1997 Thredbo, New South Wales -Destroyed two buildings

-Killed 18 people

Preparedness by doing additional things may help prevent the worst effects of such natural disasters.

How to Prepare for Natural Disasters in Australia?

Aside from the emergency tips above, it may also help to follow the recommendations of Services Australia.

  • Set up a plan to prepare for emergencies – visit the website of The Australian Red Cross for more details
  • Save the contact details of your local emergency response
  • Get emergency payments – visit the website of Services Australia to check your eligibility

Learning the first aid for wounds, injuries, and other health concerns that may occur after a natural disaster would also be helpful.

Aside from the emergency tips above, it may also help to follow the recommendations of Services Australia.

What Government Services are Available in Case of a Natural Disaster in Australia?

The website of Services Australia states that different support is available in case of a declared natural disaster.

  • Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) from the state, territory, and/or national governments
  • Financial help
  • Help while you get an income support payment
  • Living arrangements
  • Family and domestic violence support
  • Social work services
  • Mental health support
  • Help with healthcare
  • Recovery of identity documents

It may be ideal to contact your local government agency first for support.


The natural disasters that happened in Australia were heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, floods, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides. The worst natural disasters occurred in different areas of Australia which killed people and damaged properties. Emergency preparation and first aid knowledge may help minimise the damage in case these happen again. Government services and support from the state, territory, and national agencies are also available. 



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