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A Blaze Aid Experience

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During the afternoon we ran three plain wires and one barbed wire, installed insulators for electric fencing and erected Ringlock fencing.  At 4 pm we drove back to camp, physically and mentally tired.  A quick shower, then drinks around the campfire, before being called in for dinner, provided by a mother and her three children, thankful their property had not been burnt.

Day 3 – now we could see the end of the one-kilometre fence project.  Wire strainers and winches were brought into use.  We were trained to become “wire twitchers” - my wife proved quite adept at this.  All of us stepped up the pace and were back at base by 4pm.  But no time for a shower today as nearby Ballantyne Shearing Shed (circa 1860) was opened for our inspection – a piece of rural history.

Day 4 – a different property – and today we were with Big John.  After straining top wires, we clipped Cyclone fencing to star pickets – then it started to rain. “That’s it” said John.  “This is blacksoil country. If we stay here we will get bogged”.

We quickly packed up and sought a route home, passing a tree still burning down in its roots - and the bushfire had been supposedly extinguished weeks before.  It continued to rain all that day and the next.  Tonight the dinner guests were all those farmers assisted this week.  

Day 6 – Don and Eunice had purchased their “retirement” farm only two months prior. They lost their house, but the sheds were saved. Three mates from Sydney were helping them, none with any fence building experience. By the end of the day, though, they had erected five hundred metres of standard five-strand wire fencing.  

Day 7 – two of yesterday’s people have had to return to work in Sydney.  With reduced numbers we re-doubled our efforts to finish our tasks.  During the day my wife presented Debbie with a donated quilt – tears all round…  As we drove out the gate David stood and saluted us – he couldn’t speak.

The tiny hamlet of Uabry lost their hall, church and ten of thirteen houses in the fire.  A few weeks later the owner of one of the three remaining houses fell asleep in front of the fire – a log rolled out and burned down the house!

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