If you lived anywhere on the east coast of NSW in 1974, you might remember the famous storms of that year.

They were memorable for the damage they caused – such as the loss of the beach sand everywhere; the damage to the apartment blocks at Collaroy Beach, and damage to Manly wharf and destruction of the famous harbour swimming pool and walkway. In this story from June 1974 the storm-surge was sufficient to stop the tide running out of Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River, while the planks of the Palm Beach Wharf were under water!

The heroic rescue of ketch Wotan by Water Police launch Falcon

Summary of events – 9 June, 1974

It was a Sunday afternoon and the three-man crew of police launch Falcon had just returned to its home base Church Point. The boat had been refuelled the radio operator received a call to attend a boat in distress off Tuggerah; it had been seen roll over in the bombora by the local lifesavers, who were unable to reach it in their power boat.

Falcon was turned around and set off for Broken Bay, where the crew were astounded by the size of the swell running from SSE. A decision had to be made and all agreed they would never forgive themselves if they didn’t try and someone drowned. So they went.

It was many hours later that the exhausted crew with their rescued survivors of the ketch Wotan finally returned to Pittwater around one o’clock in the morning. They had all endured many harrowing hours battling huge seas and gale-force winds – the flashes of the ‘Joey’ lighthouse never looked so good as they did that night!

All the crew members of Falcon were subsequently awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.