At the top of a hill on the outskirts of Emu Park, debris has flown everywhere on the Three Churches property.

There’s piles of wood on top of more piles of wood. This wood was once the structure of a church that stood for over a century.

What was once Australia’s oldest standing wooden church is now nothing more than a mound of rubble.

Constructed in 1874, this Congregational church was one of three owned by Anthony White. No longer used for religious reasons, they had become a gathering place for artists, yogis, environmentalists and musicians on any given occasion over the past fourteen months since Anthony moved in.

The buildings were transported to this land over thirty years ago from Rockhampton by a man who originally wanted to create a historical village.

Staring at the remnants that lie in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Marcia, Anthony is just thankful he is alive.

Watching the whole event unfold is something he won’t easily forget.

“We were looking out the windows, looking at the church next door which was swaying from side to side.

“Eventually... it just collapsed. That’s when we really got scared.”

Huddled away in the bottom room of the adjoining church with three others, they believed the roof beams would be strong enough to be their salvation.

Roof beams or not, their shelter survived the cyclone with nothing more than a broken window or two.

Witnessing a Category 5 cyclone firsthand is something Anthony is not keen to experience again.

Originally published on ABC Open.

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