The flora around Bunyip is well on the way to returning to normal – and so are the locals one year after devastating bushfires roared through their territory.
I was honoured to do a couple of tours of duty in to the area to help Cardinia Shire discern how people were recovering from the fires. Groups of two VCC EM volunteers set off from the shire offices to head to affected areas in and around Bunyip.
What struck me was the people’s resilience and spirit of mateship. Not one of them was the worst off. Each one pointed up or down the road and nominated “so and so’’ as doing it tougher than them. But when we visited “so and so’’, he just pointed further afield to somebody else.
The vast majority told us they were doing OK, despite the odd gripe with council over roadworks or their insurance company or a dispute over a boundary.
Many were proud to show off their new timber fences and on one day we arrived just in time to see one farmer tie off the last strand of his 6km wire boundary fence that he had been battling with almost since the fires. Another was well on the way to planting 1000 trees or shrubs around their property.
One year on, the local Lions Club is still putting on sumptuous, three-course lunches for the locals and interlopers such as us at the Tonimbuk Hall. It was great to have a catch-up chat with VCC EM colleagues over the dining table or pick the brains of the hard-working local volunteers.
The overwhelming sentiment of the people we visited was gratitude for not forgetting about them and their well-being.