We cannot explain how we managed to save ourselves and our infrastructure. Was it luck, knowledge, our fire fighting skills, property design, fire plan or the specific conditions relating to this fire. We will never know for sure, but it was probably a combination of all of these. Certainly one of the core considerations in our permaculture design for Tenderbreak was minimising the risk from fire. One day we’ll do a post detailing the fire defence elements of our property plan, all of which worked magnificently. Mind you, as we are still in the process of developing the farm, our plan was not fully implemented (eg our Interpretation Centre is still at the frame stage and is quite vulnerable). In the future we will be even more prepared than we were this time. However, I doubt whether you can ever be 100% ready for wildfire.
The knowledge and advice we obtained from the local brigade and our local fire guard group was also extremely valuable. Serafina (the CFA liaison person) had spent many hours over the past few years guiding us in our precautions and understanding of fire behaviour. A testament to the value of fireguard groups is that not one of the ten active members lost their homes. One effect of this tragedy is that it has brought us closer together in a bond developed from facing a common danger.
Whilst on the subject of the CFA, we must mention that the volunteers that make up this magnificent organisation are heroes. We knew it was too dangerous for them to come to our place along our narrow bush access track, but they did not forget us. As soon as they could, they chain sawed their way through to us, and we were saddened to find out that one of the Dixons Creek members lost his own home while he was out protecting others.
Trucks from various brigades made their way up our drive each day to check on us. On Tuesday the Olinda crew spent some time putting out some of our hotspots that were of concern. The sight of a bright red fire truck certainly lifted our spirits. Luckily there was plenty of water left in our dam and they were able to fill up their tanker.
Although we made it through this disaster with comparatively little in the way of losses, the experience has still taken its toll emotionally. We feel pain for our friends, neighbours and fellow Victorians who experienced the devastation of losing family members and their homes and are sick with worry for those people who are still facing the raging fires. We are physically exhausted and our bodies ache. We are suffering from lack of sleep and stressed from living on the edge of disaster for so many days and not knowing when the danger will finally end.
This is an old car we had parked in the bush. The fire was so hot here that the window glass turned to liquid and flowed down the side of the car.