Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Fires #97

You don't have to connect with a blogger to always read what they write do you? I am obliged to Middle Child for pointing me to the link.

I looked at the link she posted, photos of the fire deceased, trying to see a commonality. I could see none. Just people who you may come across. No connection. Nothing in common. All different. All victims of the same. All joined by one thing only. All cut short before their time.

From today's Age online.

Some people driving out of Kinglake this afternoon angrily gestured at cameramen filming police removing the roadblock into town.

Others chatting to police before the reopening appeared glad they would no longer need a wristband to get and from their homes.

Seems there is some conflict there. It is over a month since that terrible day. No doubt some people are still very emotional, but I am not sure people in the past were allowed such an indulgence. All this public spirited fund raising has been a marvellous. I wonder what the survivors of the Cockatoo fires in 1982, which I recall vividly, received. I don't recall such fund raising. I don't recall police protection. I don't recall benevolent insurance companies. I don't recall counsellors. They just got on with it and went on to build their lives. They could have been severe and the worst case victims or survivors and probably did not have media mouthpieces. I am not denying the impact on present victims.

I would hope that some of the money raised for victims and survivors of this last fire is kept aside for future survivors.

As is should be, we taxpayers are kicking in, aside from the massive personal donations.

Then there is the glorified destroyed communities. I am sure there were communities in these country towns. But before you get all too warm hearted about country communities, they can be nasty and vindictive places for those who 'do not fit'.

When I was a young kiddie, our family never fitted. We were way too posh city slickers. 'City slicker' was a valid insult term. Mother wore modern fashions to country dances and was derided. Father drank too much for what was the norm in country towns and he never really fitted. My Uncle who lived with us was a very attractive guy and he was popular with the lasses, so the town overlooked his drinking. Girls of the country town fell at his feet. Fell at his feet is one way of putting it. Sleazing up to him with desperation is another.

Country towns have probably changed since I was a participant in them. I hope they have moved on from being gossipy and cliquey places.


  1. Do visit please, at Bliss Hill whose CFA husband was there, and read about what they saw when they went back.
    Hard to believe Melbourne people can be so vile, in the face of all the goodness.
    None of us will forget that day, and I thought of the Cockatoo fires as well, where people crawled into a street drain while the fire rolled over them.

  2. Dearest Ann.

    I read the Bliss post soon after it was published early today and it was influential in my post. I think he is DSE, not CFA. DSE are among the unsung heroes. It is not their fault that they are no longer the Forerstry Commission.

    You would know all about theft from a respectable business hey.

    Anything changed?

    PS I was thinking about the people in the drain too.

  3. You're right, none of us who went through the '83 Ash Wednesday fires got any of what they get now. We manned the recovery centres ourselves, we had working bees with friends and relatives to clean up our properties, our friends lived in caravans for a few years whilst they rebuilt their houses, looters came and stole what they could, friends of ours turning up to their own property to find people loading their possessions into a trailer. I don't even remember there being any fundraisers.
    I guess it shows how far we've come. Grief does strange things to people and I guess these people just want to get on with their lives without twats from the city rubbernecking at their loss. Though I do remember the same thing happening after Ash Wednesday, that was why there was such a big property boom up there, people came up and despite the devastation, they bought up the land. Weird.

  4. It's bizarre and weird and so huge.
    In the '39 fires a woman in Woods Point grabbed her kids and jumped into an old (vertical but shallow) mine shaft near her house and lived.
    I heard from rellies about people who bought at Cockatoo and Gembrook right after the fires, Fenz, thinking they were getting bargain priced property due to the fires.

  5. The fires that ripped through Woodend and Gisborne are ones I recall vivdly too. Those people, including friends and family, just got on with it as you said. One of our friends had a stroke in the week after the fire had almost raised his house, yet did raise his farm machinery (all insured).
    I agree, and hae also thought it out loud, save some of the dosh for the future, because there sure is alot more undergrowth that will burn..not if, but when.

  6. I wonder if they did well financially Fenz?

    Here is a spade to dig a bigger hole Jayne. Tradie brother bought in Cockatoo soon after the fires, coz it was cheap.

    I guess it will all happen again Cazzie. As a percentage of the population of Victoria, more have been killed in previous fires. We are getting better and staying alive.

  7. I think the difference now is the internet and mobile phones so that everyone was more or less up to date. With the 83 fires, we didn't know what was going on. In our suburban street we made sandwiches, collected blankets and water and had them driven to the volunteers at the front.

  8. Never thought about that JahTeh. How much things have changed since then.