The twister hit Friday in an area on the border between New South Wales and Queensland, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Jimmy Deguara, a Sydney-based storm chaser who had moved north for the storm season, told the newspaper that the tornado appeared about 4 p.m. during a thunderstorm accompanied by high winds and hail.
He described the funnel appearing in the bottom of thunderstorm clouds.
"I was 150 to 100 meters from the eye of the tornado. You could hear the roar of it," he said.
In Dunoon, a town in the far northern part of New South Wales, the tornado blew out the walls of the Anglican church, left about 20 homes without roofs and gutted two classrooms at the elementary school.
Tornadoes are unusual in Australia, at least in the populated areas on its coasts.