Yesterday morning Daisy, our 9 year old, ran into the kitchen and shouted with such excitement, “Mum Mum it’s raining, that means Dad and the other fire fighters won’t have to go back to the fire!”
9 days ago, at 4.05pm the phone rang and it was our neighbour Bryan Kiss calling to tell me he could see a bush fire that looked like it was at the back of Glenwood. “You’d better get Norm!”, he said. So, I shouted to the children “there’s a bush fire, call Bruce Taylor to bring the fire truck and then call 000! I am going down to the shearing shed to get Dad.”
The adrenalin and anxiety just puts everything on fast forward. I jumped in the car and raced down to the woolshed. We had Dr Jim Watts for 2 days going through our ewes for joining (working out which ewe was going to be joined by which Ram this year to ensure the best outcome for our wool and genetics, a lengthy procedure in January for 2 days in 40 degree heat). As I flew down I could see the black smoke pluming up behind the woolshed of which Norm would not have seen. Tooting the car horn, Norm raced out, saw the smoke and jumped on the bike.
It turned out to be an out-of-control bush fire on our neighbours’ property “Uungula” – The Hollands. The fire swept through their property, which is on our southern border, and onto the neighbours’ on the east. People came from everywhere to volunteer their time to fight the fire. The new fire fighting jet, “Thor” was brought in by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) along with other planes and helicopters with as many as 33 fire brigades on the ground, and hundreds of volunteer fire fighters.
Over the next few days it was quite frightening and exhausting and extremely hot – the temperature at the fire ground would have been awful. There was a lot of land burnt and a number of our neighbours were affected – John & Penny Holland, John Feiland, John & Jane Xeurb, Robert & Anthony Endicott, Clancy & Ruth Rowbottom and Pete Barton. Here on Glenwood we were extremely lucky with thanks to the local fire crews and those that travelled from neighbouring shires and towns and afar to assist. We were also lucky that the wind did not head in our direction. The amazing work done by the RFS and the volunteers was simply incredible. No lives, stock or buildings were lost, although many hectares, feed and fences were. With no lives or stock losses we can be so grateful.
The local Wellington community have been amazing with people wanting to help: cooking food, meals, slices, baby- sitting, shopping, cleaning up and generally pitching in to help do whatever they can. The messages received from friends near and far to check all was OK and if they could assist in any way was overwhelming and a great comfort to know, and I am talking about everyone affected not just us.
In the emergency time there are planes, helicopters and fire trucks to hose down the fire and put it out. There are volunteers on bulldozers cutting roads and making fire breaks and back burning to stop the fires - hours and hours or work with others walking up and down the hills with rakes and shovels ensuring that every log and tree are out and will not flare up again in the hot weather or when the wind changes.
Every shift goes for 12 hours but that does not count the travel time and to and from the bush fire. This fire was in the hills on very inaccessible areas – it can take 1 ½ hours for us to get to the fire front and we live next door. The volunteers come back exhausted and blackened looking like chimney sweeps.
The co-ordination of a bush fire by the many services and people involved is mind boggling from the local land owners to the local bush fire brigades, local councils, the Rural Fire Service to the media and friends and family and the local community. We are so lucky to live in Australia, a wonderful free country and for those who always give their time tirelessly and selflessly when needed. We should always be so thankful to live in the best country in the world.
Thank you to everyone involved over the last 8 days. We are all so incredibly grateful and to listen to the rain pouring down on our tin roof is in one word “beautiful”.
Until next time – stay safe and happy