Earth moves at Esperance

Dorothy HendersonCountryman
The earth shook for Neridup farmer Colin de Grussa last Friday.
Camera IconThe earth shook for Neridup farmer Colin de Grussa last Friday. Credit: Danella Bevis

Homes and nerves rattled in the Esperance region last Friday afternoon, when residents were affected by tremors that radiated from Norseman, resulting from an earthquake which shook the region.

According to the Geoscience Australia report, the seismic activity was recorded on July 8 at 5.40pm and occurred east of Norseman, 16km underground.

The magnitude 5.6 quake was registered by seismic stations all over Australia, including the Pilbara Seismic Array, and stations at Cobar in NSW and Quilpie in Queensland.

Although there were no reports of damage in the region, people going about their evening routines were concerned and jolted by the quake, which lasted long enough for them to be well aware of the earth moving beneath their feet.

At Neridup, Colin de Grussa and his family were sitting in their living room when the impact of the quake was felt.

Furniture shook violently, including the couch they were sitting on, cupboards rattled and glass in windows moved.

“When we went outside, we could hear the rumbling disappearing,” Mr de Grussa said.

He said no damage was visible in the wake of the quake.

Farmers in Jerdacuttup, Hopetoun and Merivale said they felt the tremors.

At Jerdacuttup, Natalie Mollett was cooking at 5.45pm.

“I thought the old dog was rubbing his back on the kitchen door and maybe the washing machine was on spin cycle but I couldn't remember putting a load on,” she said.

“The kids were on the couch and said it was very funny with the wall rocking and shaking and the couch bouncing around.”

Esperance residents reported glass moving in cupboards, and some described the experience as frightening, and a reminder of the strength of nature.

Yvette Mansted said she had a custom-made wine rack with slide-on sections for glasses.

“The cabinet shook so much during the quake that the crystal glasses were hitting each other,” she said.

“I thought they were going to break or slide out and smash.”

Mrs Mansted knew what had caused the earth to shake, having lived through WA’s most damaging quake.

“My parents had a conditional purchase farm in York when I was 11 years old and we used to go up from Gidgegannup to work on it; we had a little old caravan we all used to stay in,” she said.

“We were in the caravan when the Meckering earthquake occurred in October 1968.

“It was so frightening.

“We thought someone had connected up to the caravan and was trying to tow it away but Dad said the rumbling noise was an earthquake.

“Our dog was so frightened.

“As soon as I felt the house shaking and heard the noise here I knew exactly what was happening.”

The Meckering quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. It literally rocked the State, destroying the small town and damaging buildings as far away as Perth.

Naomi Christensen said she was in the bathroom on Friday when the earth moved and the house shook.

“It was rattling so hard I was scared the bathroom mirror was going to fall off and smash on to the tiles,” she said.

“The feeling was so strange — less a shaking, and more an undulating of the floorboards.

“It seemed to last forever and was definitely the scariest one yet.

“I'm amazed nothing fell off the walls or shelves. It really was intense.

“I knew immediately it was bigger than the others but wasn’t at all convinced the epicentre was as far away as Norseman until I looked it up.

“Because it lasted so long I had plenty of time to post to a community page on Facebook.

“As someone who lives alone I can’t tell you how comforting it is to engage with others on social media while it is occurring.”

Margie Thomas-Close said that “the sensation was exactly like trying to walk on solid ground after being at sea”.

Cheryl Bradley initially thought that her eyes were playing tricks on her.

“I was shopping in a large supermarket and cursed the fact I was still having trouble with my eyes, as I had been all day, thinking the labels were jumping up and down ... which, of course, they were ... I didn’t even realise it was an earthquake,” she said.

Lee Rawlinson said she thought the rumbling was her husband manoeuvring cars around in the driveway and that she did not feel anything.

Her partner said that their shed doors “fairly rattled” for a while after the initial tremor and a friend said the water in their fish tank was “sloshing around.”

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