Workers at the Shine Dome in Canberra staged a dramatic rescue to save some of the most important papers in world science from destruction by hail and rain.
As sky-lights shattered on the iconic building, staff realised that boxes of original and invaluable papers written by Australian scientists who have won global eminence were about to be turned to pulp.
The staff of the Australian Academy of Science rushed to the Dome in their high-heels, socks and stockings and formed a human chain to ferry the boxes from the library to a safe, dry place - just in the nick of time.
"It was an absolutely frightening situation," the chief executive of the Australian Academy of Science, Anna-Maria Arabia, said.
It all happened in an instant. They heard the glass above shattering as every sky-light in the dome cracked and water started pouring in.
"There are sky-lights that provide light into our library and our library houses nationally and, indeed, globally significant historic archives."
She praised the staff. "They came over to the Shine Dome - people in suits and heels and all sorts of things, literally forming a line to both doors that exit this library.
And - happily - there were champagne buckets in the library.
"We also immediately had buckets - whatever we could grab, we grabbed to capture the water so it would not go on top of the archival boxes and then enter them and affect the contents."
The boxes contained the original notes written by some of the world's most important scientists, including Frank Fenner whose work led to the eradication of smallpox - the Fenner collection has been recognised as globally significant by the United Nations - and of Gordon Leslie Ada who did much to understand influenza..
The rescued archives also included the work of Frank Leslie Stillwell, a geologist who was part of Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Douglas Mawson from 1911 to 1914.
There are papers of Sir Douglas Mawson himself and Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David, an explorer on expeditions to the Antarctic in 1907 and 1910.
And there are papers of Hanna Neumann, the mathematician who broke new ground in a very male field.
Ms Arabia said that the manuscripts and notes were as important in their scientific way as the collection at the Australian War Memorial was to the national military memory.
"These collections tell us a lot about our scientific history and inform our future so they are a very, very valuable nationally and global asset," she said.
"I am so pleased that we were able to get together in the Academy of Science spirit and the wonderful staff here were able to save the archive."
The Shine Dome has been trying to raise money to transfer the papers to a digital form. That work of putting the archive online and not just in vulnerable cardboard boxes has become all the more urgent after the close shave on Monday.
"The Academy has been fundraising to have the archives digitised but we have not yet met our target of at least $10 million to achieve this," Ms Arabia said.
The Australian Academy of Science's heritage-listed headquarters on the same site as the Shine Dome also suffered extensive damage, with dozens of windows smashed, making the building unsafe for staff for the immediate future.
The vehicles of 34 staff were also severely damaged by the hailstorm. On Tuesday, they were still in the car park, their panels dented and windows shattered.