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Published: February 27th 2016
Burnt through, the only thing that was holding this fence post together was fresh air
It's 5.00 am on Saturday 27th
February and I am up and at ’em unfortunately, we are miles behind on the blogs and are still trying to finish the sequence from Christmas.
For some strange reason I woke up thinking about this blog that happened last Saturday and the only thing to do was get out and type it.
Two words that don’t play nicely together are Australia and fire and not long after Christmas when we were in the middle of our summer and the days are scorching at 40+ degree’s we were saddened to see there were terrible fires in Yarloop, a pretty little town not too far from here and a town we have been through many times.
In fact we were in Yarloop for our friend Andy’s birthday when we all went to the amazing steam workshops and were blown away by all the stuff they had on trains etc., we walked around it and at the end was a pattern room that was full to the gunwale’s with patterns, which are precise wooden replicas of things that are made in wood first as a sample, then made in metal.
So just picture a
Our meeting point
train wheel for example, it would be about 4ft in Diameter beautifully manufactured by a craftsman in wood with all the holes and flanges and so forth before it was cast in steel and the room we are in had hundreds of patterns all hand made and unique, all labeled as to their purpose and each one telling its own story of engineering development.
When the fires ripped through Yarloop it took at least 149 houses, local businesses, farms, livestock, and if I may use the word, fortunately only two lives. It also raised the steam workshops to the ground and all that history is gone in less than 7 minutes.
One thing Australia does very well is pull together when the sh*t has hit the fan and this was one of those moments.
It was a major TV event, the news teams were covering in this, as the summer temperatures soared, homes were being lost and it was a massive firefighting operation.
As soon as it kicked off people instantly went in to full humanitarian mode, a storage company in Perth started collecting things and opened their business so the general public could drop off
bits and pieces for the people who were going to need it.
The images on the TV were horrendous, fire fighters were drafted in from as far afield as New South Wales, that is a five hour flight away the other side of Australia and all the world could do was watch as this tragedy unfolded.
Now last Saturday I got the opportunity to go down to Yarloop and help out, one of our Toyota Landcruiser Club Members is a Rotarian and the Rotary club of Pinjarra was putting on a working Bee.
Caroline put it up on the Toyota Landcruiser Club Facebook page to see if we could get as many members as we could, but due to the short notice period there was only two of us, still better than nothing.
I picked John up at 6 am I had told him that I was a pain in the arse when it came to being on time and as I would be driving I would be at his place a six dead on, he assured me he would be up and waiting.
I know where john lives really well as Caroline and I
have sat their house twice now, last year for six months and recently just for a month, I think we have nearly spend as much time in their new house as they have.
I rolled down the drive at 5.50am (I told you I was a pain in the arse) and pulled the truck alongside the garage, I saw the curtains twitch so I knew there was life in the Ogden Household.
Ten minutes later, John appears, with his sandwiches, hat and water for the day and he apologies as his alarm had not gone off and thus overslept.
We jump on the freeway heading South, the day is waking up nicely, not too much traffic and the sun is rising and it’s going to be a warm one, I imagine that Caroline is still probably tucked up in bed fast asleep.
We arrive at the Pinjarra bakery at 6.55 am where we will start our day with a coffee and a pie for breakfast, we don’t have to be at the muster point until 8.00am so we have plenty of time.
One of the things I love about Australia is their love for pies,
and every town thinks they have the best pie shop.
A note to you Helen - the day we met you guys, we brought you a Cherry pie from the Robertson Pie shop (The place where they filmed Babe - Not in the pie shop though, I meant in Robertson) and we did believe that this was Australia’s best pie shop, but the Pinjarra Bakery is honestly the best in the Universe.
Once we were fed and watered we needed to get on our toes and get going as we had about 10 Kilometres to go to meet the other volunteers.
I had been in touch with a guy called Willie Brown, whom the only thing I knew about him was he was Scottish and a Rotarian, he had sent me a map of where we needed to be and at what time.
We had a quick squirt along the South Western Highway, until we had just gone past Mclarty’s homestead on the left hand side then we would make a turn in to a road at the next right, which I can’t remember at this moment, then follow the signs.
It all went to
A classic Back Boy
plan beautifully, past Mclarty’s, found the road on the right, then followed the signs to our muster point which happened to be at a farm.
Of course we were the first to arrive an old boss of mine, said to me once, always be an hour early, never be five minutes late and that’s just one of those things I have never forgotten.
Everyone soon rocked up and the farmer’s wife had their tea shack in full swing and we all had a brew whilst waiting for our instructions.
We were put in a team of six, with a guy called Miles, John and I and a husband wife and son who were British and had wanted also to make a small contribution to people who were less fortunate than ourselves.
We jumped in our vehicles then followed Miles for about 30 Kilometres until we arrived at a farm and where we were briefed on what our task was.
As we were driving to this point, I could not help but notice how everything was just incinerated, tree’s gone, fields just scorched and fences were non existent, but I really couldn’t say how far from
Yarloop we were as I was not too familiar with my geographical location.
Our mission for the day was to cut the old fence wire and roll it up, quite a simple task, the days weather was forecast to be about 37 degree’s and sunny, it was definitely a day for a hat.
We all soon worked together as a team, I walked ahead and cut the fencing wire about every 50 Mtrs as when you rolled the fence wire up it soon became heavy if you did too long a length and when you came to a corner you needed to take all the barbed wire down and roll it up as it would just make it simpler for the team behind me, I would then work my way back to the other people then we would just complete a section.
There was that smell of smoke, not directly, but just constantly there and looking at my hands and they were black.
I haven’t seen any Kangaroo’s for ages and I was delighted when I saw a mother and Joey not too far from me, I had obviously disturbed them with my snipping of the
wire and they had taken flight, the joey doing Three hops to every huge bound its mum took and soon they were far away.
I had put the fridge on in the Landcruiser to keep our water and sandwiches cool, the day was now baking and that cool water was just a joy to drink, thank goodness for 12v fridges.
Our task was finished by about 2.30, we hadn’t stopped for any lunch, only a guzzle of water when we felt like it, we all were tired and sore but satisfied we had made a contribution.
We had only done one paddock worth of fencing and had calculated that we taken down and rolled up around 3 linear Kilometres of fencing, multiplied simply by 4 strands of wire that would be around 12 Kilometres of wire, no wonder my hands were sore.
I dropped John off at home at just after three thirty and got back to Fremantle at just after four PM, I was tired, but we needed to pop out and get a new BBQ for Roobie, as we are away for the next public Holliday in March so we are just getting ready.
The Kangaroo's were in here, until i disturbed them
I really did enjoy my hard day of toil It had been just what I wanted to do, which was give back, not because I am a saint or sinner, but because Australia is my adopted home, they have made us feel welcome so this is the least we can can do.
On Thursday night at our TLCC annual general meeting someone announced that there is soon to be another working bee, doing some equally good work, so I hope we can go.
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