I think the dog noticed it first. He started barking for no apparent reason. Not unusual.
Then there was the low rumbling like a truck going past., but more constant and not as loud. Weird and eery.
I was sitting at the dining room table, helping my son fill out some forms for his new job . He has a habit of doing that nervous rapid-bouncing on the ball of his foot when he sits like that so I couldn’t quite tell if the vibrations were him or not.
My wife and daughter were watching telly. I think one of them might have been walking around. Our dining room floor shakes a bit when its walked on so it’s hard to tell.
5 seconds. “Stop shaking your leg, mate”.
Gradually the low rumbling increased. So did the shaking. So did the barking.
10 seconds. Getting stronger. Stuff was shaking and rattling.
“What’s happening?”, Wifey called out.
Son and I looked at each other.
15 seconds. Still stronger. “This is an earthquake”, I said calmly.
20. When will it stop? I didn’t know. How strong will it get? I didn’t know.
By 30 seconds the shaking had levelled out but was still strong. The rumbling continued.
Then it began to wane. Relief.
We don’t get many strong earthquakes in Australia. This turned out to be a Mag 5.2. Stronger than the couple of 4.2′s Melbourne had a few years ago but not as quite as strong as Newcastle 1989. Certainly the strongest I’ve experienced in Australia
Those 4.2′s were easier to mistake for heavy traffic roaring past your front window. In fact the easiest way to tell if the shaking you experience in Australia is an earthquake is to check Geoscience Australia’s website at www.ga.gov.au. If the website has crashed then it’s likely it was an earthquake because it seems any more than 100 people accessing that server is enough to kill it.
Newcastle aside, we tend to take the piss about earthquakes in Australia. This apparently serious comment in The Age:
Near the epicentre of the quake, Moe police constable Chris Hand was enjoying a cup of coffee when it hit.
“I had the cup sitting on the table and it spilled over,” Const Hand said.
Anyone who’s experienced a real earthquake, you know, one that actually causes damage, would rightfully poke fun at this. And on Twitter they did.
Then there’s this:
But once everyone calms down and all the jokes on Facebook and twitter about Melbourne’s “earthquakes” have done the rounds, we should all be grateful that our homes are still standing. And we spare a thought for the people of Japan, Chile, New Zealand, Pakistan and other quake prone areas who have not been as lucky.
So even when this geologically safe city shakes a little and builds up slowly to something moderately intense, we still feel the fear of those people. The fear born of the fact: You don’t know when it will stop.