Just when I thought I’d controlled the tears
* This story was taken verbatim from a post by Lowmount. Lowie has some great friends here who are very happy he is safe *
OMG where do i start?......
Its my first day back in the office and trying to make sense of everything and the first thing i wanted to do was check the forum as Grim, Mech, Chill, Tank, Oldm8, Ulric and others (sorry, i’ve lost my list) had all phoned or dropped in to check in on me and tell me of the support you guys and gals had all offered.
.....and since i started reading the threads the tears haven’t stopped....just when i thought i had everything under control
My partner Melinda has never quite understood my need to game and socialize online and gets quite annoyed at my boistrous chatter on TS. But i think now she is starting to understand what a fantastic group of friends and community i belong to.
I am still yet to find the right words to express my/our appreciation towards all of you and your families for the support you have provided in both $$$ and goods but i assure you i will reply to all of you in person as soon as i can. It is now one of my goals in life to meet as many of you in person as i can, to sit and enjoy a beer, and hopefully to tell a story or two as the sun sets in a sky not filled with smoke.
I’d like to share with you all the day that unfolded for me on Black Saturday (as its now known) sorry, but talking about it actually helps....
My missus (Mel) had organised for us to go see a band (the waifs) down at Mornington and had booked a B&B for the night. She wanted to leave early but at midday i was still upstairs sending PM’s and replying to forum threads . She kept yelling to me to hurry up and i just hate to be rushed.... As i logged off the computers i thought to myself - do i take them and the camera’s with me? You see as a part time Journo i carry my camera’s and laptops everywhere i go. But in a rush i decided it was best to keep Mel happy and rushed out the door......Those camera’s, laptops and 3 hard drives full of every photo i’ve ever taken are now somewhere beneath the rubble
It was hot and windy when we left and we knew there were fires in Kilmore (some 50k away) but never gave it another thought.
We dropped off the kids at Grandpa Hairy’s (he looks like Ned Kelly) and went to the B&B. The temp on the cars outside thermometer registered 48 and the aircon had stopped working so as soon as we made it to the B&B we were into the shower to cool off. I turned on the news and there was talk of the Kilmore fire spreading so i checked the CFA website on my phone....no fires were reported in Kinglake, whittlesea or surrounding towns....and then i got a text message on my phone saying there were structure fires in the streets surrounding my house. It was 6.30 and my stomach sank as i knew i wouldn’t get home in time to save my 2 pet cats (one who had been with me to hell and back over the previous 17 years) and i now know my house was gone before i even jumped in the car. We raced back home in record time only to be stopped at road blocks in Yarra Glen (25km from home). Yarra Glenn was burning as was the entire mountain range.
What I did next was very silly but it was something i had to do.
I spoke to the police officers at the road block and they said that they wouldnt stop anyone that realy wanted to go. I bided my time and waited for the road to open to Yarra Glen and off I went. I passed the last road block just the other side of Yarra Glen and kept driveing up the mountain. The wind had dropped and i could see well enough to dodge the fallen and burning trees, the burnt out cars (some with people still in them) and downed powerlines. I figured if i drove fast enough my tyres wouldnt burn. I made it up the mountain and was 2km from the township when a large tree fell in front of us. I stopped the car and a guy appeared at my window. He asked where we had come from and stated that nobody had come up or gone down the mountain since the fire started. There were no CFA trucks or ambulances. Everything was on fire as far as we could see yet his house, down in a hollow had survived. I asked if he could help me move some of the tree so i could get to town and he replied with ‘ no probs....i’ve got a bob cat in the shed’. As the tree was cleared the first ambulance, a MICA unit, pulled up behind me and asked if they could get through to kinglake. I told them to follow and we dodged more trees as we headed in. Every house i could see was on fire and flames were roaring high from the bowsers at what was once the general store and fuel station. I passed the pub and fire station where arround 200 locals had huddled together to survive the fire storm and continued up the road. We passed the burnt out ruins of the SES station and a pile up of 6 cars and a motorbike....still with occupants . Our driveway is not far beyond.......
the rest you have see on TV.....
My house was a two storey, double brick and mud brick home. Built in 1973 by a fireman and designed to withstand bushfires. My workshop had 2 fire fighting pumps sitting on the floor ready to go....along with 10 fire extinguishers. I used to work for a fire protection company and was a CFA member for more than ten years until life became to busy. I had just purchased a new high pressure house pump and was waiting for the water tanks to be delivered as we are on a bore and had no tanks to store water.
had i been there i would have fought the fire. I would of evacuated my family as i did two years ago in the last fire and stayed to fight. But i know now that my partner and kids would have got caught up in the two vehicle pile ups, one a few hundred meters below our drive and another the same distance above. The temperature in my drive way was intense enough to melt the gearbox bell housing off my nissan patrol (its now hanging in the office...a hardened puddle of alluminium) so i am also sure that if i’d stayed i would not be here writing this today.
Just like the TOG community, the Kinglake community is pulling together to help each other. I’ve re-listed with the CFA and my partner helps run the coffee shop that is still standing. Her boss survived the fire with his family in a bunker below the ruins of his house. My 5yo boy Jamieson returned to school today. He goes to Kinglake West Primary with around 100 students and started Prep two weeks ago. The school is in temporary session at Epping...a long way from Kinglake. Jamo went to meet his new friends but was sad to see that his friend AJ (who i met on the first day) didn’t survive our school lost 12 families and 2 teachers
We have lost everything we own, but many families have lost a whole lot more. I count myself so very lucky to be able to tuck my boys into bed at night and i am so very very lucky to have such a great family here at TOG. My family are indebted to you all for your support and i hope that one day we can return the help if ever needed.
Cheers to you all.
Ok....you buggers have made me cry again