FOR 141 years the Congregational Church withstood the worst that Mother Nature could throw at it - until Cyclone Marcia.

The cyclone reduced the historic building to a broken pile of timber, and six months on that pile is still an everyday reminder for Anthony White of how much still needs to be done on his property.

Anthony White lost of of the
Anthony White lost of of the "Three Churches" which is now a pile of twisted metal and shattered timber, to Tropical Cyclone Marcia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

The Congregational Church is one of three churches which were relocated to a hill outside Emu Park about 30 years ago, along with an old Queenslander home called Lyndhurst, where Anthony lives.

During the cyclone Anthony took shelter in the Hartley Memorial Church and watched as the Congregational Church crumbled only metres away from them. Since then, the clean-up has been slow going. "We're trying to avoid the dump, that's probably the last option," Anthony said of the piles of timber. "We've been lucky that a lot of the timber has been recycled.

"We've had lots of furniture makers and carpenters taking bits and pieces and making donations, which has been great … it's great to see the church being reused somewhere else."

While the Congregational Church was the worst hit, the others were still affected.

Damage to Three Churches at Emu Park from Cyclone Marcia
Damage to Three Churches at Emu Park from Cyclone Marcia

Lyndhurst suffered damage to dozens of windows and part of the roof, while the Chapel lost a window and had a tree fall on it.

The Memorial Church lost a couple of windows and damaged roof vents, but when Anthony was waiting in there for the cyclone to blow over he feared it would be the next to go.

Anthony hoped builders could start work there in the next couple of weeks, and doesn't expect renovations to take too long once they do.

The big issue is what to do with the remaining timber from the fallen church - some of which is still trapping Anthony's crushed Porsche. "It will probably take another year (to clear it all)," he said.

He was also grateful to his insurer RACQ, not just for their help after the cyclone, but before it.

One of the
One of the "Three Churches" was destroyed by Cyclone Marcia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

About a year ago the three churches were the victim of an arson attack, after which Anthony discovered he had a "dud policy" with another insurer that didn't cover him for the damage.

He cancelled his insurance, but could not find anyone else willing to cover him because of the risk of further arson. He said RACQ were the only ones who considered covering his house, but the churches were still deemed too great a risk - and so were uninsured when the cyclone hit.

One of the historic buildings at the
One of the historic buildings at the "Three Churches" complex received some damage while one of the churches as completely demolished by Cyclone Marcia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

The Congregational Church was built in 1874, and Hartley Memorial Church was officially opened in 1901 and the Chapel was the first Methodist church to be built in North Rockhampton.



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