The Newcastle 1989 Earthquake


At 10.27am on Thursday, 28 December 1989, Newcastle was devastated by an ML 5.6 (Richter magnitude) earthquake. This was one of the most serious natural disasters in Australia's history.

Facts and figures

  • The earthquake claimed 13 lives: 9 people died at the Newcastle Workers Club, 3 people were killed in Beaumont Street Hamilton, and one person died of shock
  • 160 people were hospitalised
  • 50,000 buildings were damaged (approximately 40,000 of these were homes)
  • 300 buildings were demolished
  • 300,000 people were affected and 1,000 were made homeless
  • It left a damage bill estimated to be about $4 billion
  • The effects were felt over an area of about 200,000 sq. km, with isolated reports of movement up to 800km from Newcastle
  • Damage to buildings and facilities occurred within a 9000 sq. km region
  • The earthquake epicentre was at Boolaroo
  • One aftershock (M 2.1) was recorded on 29 December 1989

To view images and find our more go to our Newcastle Earthquake Online Collection

Explore The 1989 Newcastle Earthquake Online History Unit which aims to engage NSW school students in Year 3-4 and beyond in the study of history.