About Thomas Ryan Photography

This major photographic project documents 20th Century Modernism throughout Australia. Join me, Thomas Ryan, on a photographic journey as I document Australian 20th Century Modernism through the camera lens. Art Deco, Inter-war, Post War, Brutalism,are just some of the styles I document in this fascinating period in Australia's built history.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cyclone Yasi Destroys Art Deco building "Bell Chambers" - Tully

The devastation caused by Category 5 cyclone Yasi on the 3rd February has thankfully so far spared human life. There has been a large loss and damage to infrastructure and buildings including homes and businesses between Cardwell and Innisfail, including this Modernist building named "Bell Chambers", located in Tully.

Tully has a large number of Art Deco and Modernist commercial buildings, and sadly it looks like the fate of one of them has been sealed. This design was typical of many buildings built in Tully and throughout the region during the 1930-50s. Similar vernaculars can be seen in places nearby such as Innisfail, Ingham, Millaa Millaa, Malanda and Atherton. It was common for the Art Deco/Modernist style to continue being built well into the 1950s in Australia, in many cases as a result of designs being drawn up prior to the Second World War.

The concrete overhangs of Bell Chambers gave protection from the harsh tropical sun, and my photograph highlights the original windows that were still intact on the right hand side of the building. The coloured panelling that rises centrally on the building splays outwards slightly and is an interesting touch. Sadly, Cyclone Yasi has literally ripped half of the upper level from it's foundations.


  1. As you say, thankfully there has been minimal loss of life due to Cyclone Yasi. I've heard of one death in the aftermath.

    The lost of buildings will be widespread but this is the way of nature and I think I would feel sadder if a developer had done the damage.

  2. I reckon the loss of buildings through natural disasters as well as through redevelopment pressures are as sad as one another.