Universal Hotel burns, August 24, 2009.
Universal Hotel burns, August 24, 2009. Casandra Garvey

REVEALED: 9 moments that shocked Warwick

REGARDLESS of the fact Warwick is a peaceful rural community, known for its country atmosphere and friendly locals, over the years it's certainly thrown up more than its fair share of shocking moments.

Whether they've made us laugh, cry or gasp, many of these moments have been woven into the fabric of the community and etched forever into the minds of those residents who experienced them.

Here are a few that stand out from the crowd:

1: Warwick floods

IT WAS supposed to be the one in a century flood, but it's happened three times in 40 years.

Firstly most of Queensland went under in 1976 at levels still to be topped.

Then again in 2011, the Condamine River rose so much the northern half of Albion St and lower-lying areas were inundated and dozens of businesses and homes were flooded.

In 2013, it all happened again. Highways were cut, businesses and homes were damaged and people left stranded.

The town is more ready for it these days, but it's still a shock when Warwick goes underwater.


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Warwick floods in 2011.

2: The most famous man in the world visits Warwick

IN THE 1920s American escapologist Harry Houdini was a household name, known for his daring and often life-threatening stunts.

In 1922 Houdini visited Australia as part of a tour, showing off his amazing skills and as well as being the first person to ever fly a plane in this country he also visited Warwick.

A crowd of stunned onlookers gathered in King St, as Houdini hung upside from the then His Majesty's Theatre (now Kings Theatre) in chains and manacles.

Of course he escaped and came down from the roof of the building much to the delight of the Warwick crowd.


Harry Houdini hangs from His Majesty's Theatre (before it was known as Kings) before a stunned crowd in 1922.
Harry Houdini hangs from His Majesty's Theatre (before it was known as Kings) before a stunned crowd in 1922. Contributed

3: Pub goes up in flames

IT WAS the early days of social media, but it didn't matter where we were in the country when the Universal Hotel burned to the ground in August 2009.

The grand old wooden pub, which had stood in Grafton St for 102 years caught on fire on a Sunday night and hundreds of locals lined the street shooting video and taking photos of the blaze before posting online.

Everyone was stunned at the way this beautiful old building met her demise.


The charred remains of the Universal Hotel laid dormant for months after it was gutted by fire a year ago today.
The charred remains of the Universal Hotel laid dormant for months after it was gutted by fire a year ago today. Casandra Garvey

4: Murder in Warwick

IT TOOK three years to finalise but eventually Ian Hannaford was found guilty of Warwick grandmother Gail Lynch's murder in 2015.

On July 3, 2012, Ms Lynch went to the shops, paid her rent and returned home where she deleted Hannaford's contact details from the dating site where they had met.

They are her last known movements and her body has never been found.

At the time the new broke the Warwick public was shocked such a crime had rocked the peace of the Rose City.

5: Beloved pool pulled down

IT DOESN'T get much more shocking than this for generations of Warwick locals who spent their summers and even the odd chilly morning in April for school swimming practice at the classic E.J. Portley Olympic Pool.

With its slide and diving boards and cheap lollies it will never be forgotten.

But it was demolished with scant regard for so many childhood memories and replaced by the Warwick Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Centre, which opened in 1999.


EJ Portley Pool being demolished
EJ Portley Pool being demolished Warwick - pictures from the past

6: The Warwick egg incident

THIS famous 1917 incident didn't just shock Warwick, it shocked the whole nation.

It occurred at Warwick Railway Station, where visiting Prime Minister Billy Hughes was pelted with eggs by some rowdy and unhappy locals.

When the enraged PM ordered Warwick police to arrest the perpetrators they refused citing jurisdictional concerns.

On his return to Canberra, Mr Hughes promptly set up a national police force, today known as the Australian Federal Police.

7: Satanic sheep slaughter

A CONSERVATIVE early 1980s Warwick was shocked to the core when news broke of a senseless sheep slaughter within a short walk of the CBD.

Two young men, both aged 17, were charged with unlawfully killing and maiming 42 sheep near the grounds of the Warwick State High School in August 1986.

There was even more shock to come when it was found that one of the boys had admitted to drinking the blood of the sheep.

8: Town united by grief

OVER the years many incidents have shocked Warwick into grief, but perhaps none more so in recent times than the crash that claimed the lives of four popular Warwick young adults in January 2008.

Nick Nolan, 20, Max Thorley, 18, Brett McKenzie, 21, and Abigail Ezzy, 17, were all killed in a horrific crash near the Eight Mile, while returning from a friend's birthday party.

Earlier this year, Warwick was again shocked by the suicide of young schoolgirl, Amy 'Dolly' Everett, whose story of bullying reached into the heart of the whole country, prompting anti-bullying campaigns, national days of awareness and the birth of a charitable foundation.

Northern Territory teenager Dolly Everett.
Northern Territory teenager Dolly Everett. Facebook

9: O'Dempsey goes down

IT WAS major front page news in 2017 when Vince O'Dempsey was finally found guilty of murder and sent to prison.

This wasn't the first time the Warwick man had faced court but it would be one of the last as it was conceded he will likely die in prison.


Vincent O'Dempsey.
Vincent O'Dempsey. Nine News