FRIDAY OCT 2 / 2020 / by Andrew Talati

A story of resilience & regrowth

Bairnsdale Bunchrides group Clifton CreekThe road turns to gravel at Clifton Creek

With hundreds of homes impacted by the fires and many dozens lost, the residents of Bairnsdale and the surrounding region have shown much resilience and continue to support those impacted.

While the world is experiencing the steep climb of the Coronavirus, at some point it will flatten and the descent back to rebuilding our businesses and communities will begin, an earlier story is from the local community of Bairnsdale in East Gippsland, Victoria.

Just as the trees are sprouting new growth from the ashes, the economic  environment may be different, but their lives will return to a new normal and they can return back to spending times with others their local bunch rides.

Poor air quality

Bairnsdale Bunchrides group Clifton Creek burning offBurning off at Clifton Creek - March 2020

John, Chris, and Warren at the Bairnsdale water tower on Sunday, 8th March saying that they were pretty lucky with the smoke form the fires in the region as most of the smoke went to Melbourne.

There were a lot of easterly breezes that blew the smoke away (Bairnsdale is 140Kms from Mallacoota), but is wasn't good riding conditions so they didn't ride for a few weeks due to the air quality. It particularly affected John, who was an asthmatic, it affected him pretty badly.

The town has 14,000 people and a wider catchment area close to 50,000 with with dozens of homes being lost.

Supporting those effected

They are all working together, one local had lost their water due to the fires melting all of their pipes so they helped to fix this and another lady where it burnt all around her house, Chris was a little scared to see if she lost her home so he took her out some biscuits, soup and brought a bit of love out. She was 'happy as Larry' with a bit of coffee and was 'rapt'.

John spent a few weeks helping out a women at a distribution centre where the amount of stuff being brought into Bairnsdale was phenomenal, someone would pull up from Mornington (Peninsula) full of water and food which had to be unloaded.

Loosing their businesses and homes

Bairnsdale Bunchrides group Clifton Creek primary school rebuildingClifton Creek Primary school being rebuilt - March 2020

A lot of residents are still waiting to receive government assistence and insurance money with some properties not being able to be accessed due to asbestos contamination. 

A few properties were affected by the heat generated as one of John's mate the missed the house but went across the property damaging the roof tiles that needed to be replaced.

The town has always been close

That's the way country people are, always close and supporting one another. When walking down the street locals are looking for other people to talk to.

The rains - such a positive effect after 3 years

Bruthen regrowth of bushlandBruthen - regrowth after teh fires - March 2020

Since the rains came it has made a huge difference, even just the grass growing, it's unbelievable the change in peoples attitude, just by that, by the rain coming after 3 years. The rainfall over the last 2 months actually exceeded the rainfall of all of the previous year.

Some people have been doing it reallyt ough for many years, only a few months ago it was just dust; now it's green everywhere.