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A Blaze Aid Experience

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Over some years we had donated funds to BlazeAid, the force of volunteers that sprang into being after the devastating 2009 bushfires in Victoria. Now it was time to get down and dirty and help farmers rebuild fences near Cassilis NSW, 350 kms north west of Sydney.  A devastating fire had started due to a lightning strike.  

Through shoulder-to-shoulder work we could help re-build farmers’ lives. This was mates helping mates; paying it forward; “grey nomad” volunteering; giving something back.  After all, it is farmers who grow the grain that goes into our bread and raises the meat for us to eat.

It was easy to get involved.  We phoned ahead.

“Can you use a 74yo male and a 71yo female, both in reasonable health but no farm fencing experience?”, I asked. 

“Come on down”, replied Brian.  “Make sure you bring old clothes, as they will get very dirty”.

A quick stop saw us buy second hand clothing on the way. The discounted prices were further reduced when they learned we were en route to a BlazeAid camp.

Coming over the hill and looking down into the township, we could see how close the fire had come.  Flames had been stopped at the creek edge, fortunately, and the community of some fifty residents and their properties had been saved.

We found the base camp located at the Bowls Club, no longer with players, though it retained its alcohol licence and catering room. Welcomed by Brian, we had a quick interview, then completed paperwork for insurance purposes.  He had two mobile phones on his desk, one for farmers and donors and volunteers to contact him, the other to liaise with Government officials.

The whiteboard contained the daily team schedule and running statistics. It stated that the average volunteer was 69.5 years of age - we would fit right in! - and contributed six days of labour.   

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