Earthquake brings back memories of Newcastle fear

GYMPIE publicans Lyn and Terry Sutton hardly noticed Thursday's Gympie region earthquake, but it did bring back memories of the devastation of Newcastle in 1989.

Their memories provided a reminder of what could have happened here, had Thursday's quake off Fraser Island occurred only a short distance to the west.

It threw Terry out of his sickbed and wrecked buildings, including homes of relatives.

"I thought a truck had hit the house," he said.

"We were on holiday at my parents' place at Fingal Bay, about 70km away," Lyn said.

"I left Dad in the 4WD, with its big soft tyres, and was in the bank with the kids when this rumble occurred. Instantly, the lights went out and everything shook. It was the eeriest feeling and it was just absolutely silent afterwards.

"Everyone just stood where they were, like they were suspended in time.

"I said to the kids, 'We're out of here.'

"I ran out to Dad and said, 'I don't know what, but something awful has happened. I think it must have been an earthquake'.

"But he'd dozed off. It must have been the big tyres that absorbed the shock.

"What rubbish,' he said. 'It would have woken me."

They headed straight to Newcastle to check on family members.

"The brick front wall had collapsed at the Oxford Hotel, like a doll's house, and you could see into all the rooms," Terry said.

"There were roadblocks," Lyn said. Her family members were in some of the worst-hit areas. "My aunt had to hide under a table."

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