Late on 6 January 1897, a cyclone built up in the city of Port Darwin, striking in the early hours of 7 January. Its peak was recorded at approximately 3.30 – 4.30am. Rainfall in Darwin during the passing of the cyclone was recorded at 292 mm. The cyclone was the largest recorded before Cyclone Tracy; it uplifted rooves, uprooted trees and telephone poles, and blew apart houses, destroying almost all of the buildings in Port Darwin by approximately 7.30 am. Eighteen pearling luggers, the government steam launch and three sampans were wrecked. Twenty-eight people were killed by the cyclone.
The Bureau of Meteorology estimated the costs to exceed £150,000, in 1897 values.