30 Oct 2012

Death of 'Darwin's saviour'

6:00 am on 30 October 2012

Former Australian of the Year Major General Alan Stretton, who headed the recovery operation after Cyclone Tracy, has died.

He was known as "Darwin's saviour" for his work after Cyclone Tracy's devastation, but AAP reports he was also an AFL footballer, war hero and lawyer.

Major General Stretton, 90, died on Friday after a long illness.

He headed the Natural Disaster Organisation when Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin in 1974.

AAP reports he flew into Darwin on Christmas Day to find that the cyclone had destroyed more than 70% of the city's buildings and killed scores of people.

For his efforts, Major General Stretton was named Australian of the Year in 1975, when he said he wished there were 45,000 awards so one could be given to each person in Darwin.

"He will be remembered for Darwin, but also I think be remembered for his staunch opposition to the war in Afghanistan," his son, Canberra lawyer Greg Stretton, SC, said on Monday.

Although details of his funeral are yet to be finalised, AAP reports it is expected he will be farewelled with full military honours at the Duntroon Military College in Canberra on Friday.