Opinion

Change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Michael Weaver19 January 2020
Malua Bay

A not-so-happy new year at Malua Bay looking north to Batemans Bay on 31 December 2019. Photo: David Symons, who with wife Moira, moved there a couple of years ago.

Welcome to Country, on the land where our Elders, past and present, have gathered. We pay our respects to those who came before us and to those who will pass through the land, in time.

As ashes settle on our land, on cars, in our streets and waterways, people across the entire country are looking for answers.

Much has been written about what I am calling my new ‘f-word’, and it is difficult not to be caught up in the constant chatter of what has happened and what is to come.

When you hear politicians telling us that communities are resilient, we all know people are angry and fed up with inaction. When we see an army of resources, we already know a volunteer service has been stretched beyond its limits.

The land is burning. We’ve been burnt.

Yes, we can all make changes – maybe buy a small water tank, or fill a bucket every time you have a shower. Be patient if an item is temporarily out of stock at the supermarket.

If individuals want change, don’t put it in the comments below. Write to your federal member of parliament. If enough people do that, one thing is certain.

Change is gonna come, oh yes it will.

The video below by Cath Blythe shows how people in Tomakin on the NSW South Coast spent New Year’s Eve.

I have spoken to lots of people in the last few months about my new ‘f-word’.

On 30 December, near the NSW-Victoria border, f-word fighters in an eight-tonne tanker two-thirds full with water were told to find the nearest flat ground. When the f-word passed over, strong winds picked up and flipped the tanker. Samuel McPaul, 28, died. Two others were burned. NSW RFS district manager Superintendent Patrick Westwood said other veteran f-word fighters couldn’t believe what they saw.

West of Canberra on 4 January (the really hot day), the Dunns Road f-word travelled 100 kilometres in four hours near Tumut.

A conservative estimate is that f-words have killed almost half a billion animals.

A 20-year-old Mawson man, Luke Grey Thoroughgood, appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on the really hot day. He was charged with deliberately lighting an f-word and was sent for a mental health assessment.

A close friend lost their property at Runnyford; another friend “lost everything” south of Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve. In a pub two weeks before, an RFS member warned residents that if an f-word jumped the southern side of the Kings Highway and into the Monga State Forest, the town of Mogo would be in danger.

And Australia’s longest-running surfboat marathon, the George Bass Marathon, was cancelled. It was meant to start on 1 January in Batemans Bay. It has never been cancelled. The annual New Year’s Day Rodeo in Moruya didn’t go ahead either.

We didn’t get time to write those stories.

Thankfully, thousands of volunteers and social media squads have stepped up, along with the aptly-named ‘mozzie squads’ of people in country towns carrying 1000-litre tanks with pumps – a dwindling and precious resource to fight f-words.

Evacuating Moruya

Moruya evacuation plan, ready and waiting. Photo: Alex Rea.

If a Royal Commission finds out what on earth happened, it doesn’t matter the last time “it was this bad”.

It’s this bad now. And if it was any worse, I swear I’d put a swear word somewhere.

I am hardly qualified to say more, so the last word goes to the owners of Dog Leg Farm, at Bombay near Braidwood. Angela Hunter and Jake Annetts were the first of many in the region to lose their home when it burned on Friday, 29 November. Thankfully, their home was the only property to be destroyed, at that stage.

Dog Leg Farm is rebuilding and Angela and Jake gave us permission to share Jake’s thoughts:

Two fire crews rolled into town, probably to refuel and head back out to more horrors. It’s been a habit of late to show appreciation to these fantastic human beings, with a thumbs up or a cheery woot, but these guys were also stunned, exhausted, shocked and overworked and didn’t notice my feeble attempt at raising their spirits.

The smoke got in my eyes and I responded accordingly with a tear. We really are struggling to find hope lately. We are collectively tired of trying to be chipper all the time. Tired of not being able to offer anything other than love or money.

All we have is each other. All we can do is be there and offer anything we have.

I think I always knew this was coming one day, but being in the thick of it is harder than I imagined. I must admit, I’m expecting worse.”

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

What's Your Opinion?

2 Responses to Change is gonna come, oh yes it will

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Peter Bond 11:28 am 19 Jan 20

My local member is Mike Kelly, and I never heard a word from him, nor saw him in the news supporting victims.
The fires must become a national issue. It is possible to control the fires and action is needed now, today, because eucalyptus trees are regrowing as you read.
There are trees that resist fire and we should plant thousands of them in burnt out areas to act as a future fire break.
Planting can be done from aircraft.
Pack seeds with fertilizer and water retention nodules into bio degradable hessian bags.
The science is not in and we can apply science to find the best way.
Because they are fast growing, it may be necessary to destroy eucalyptus trees to give the new trees a good chance get started.

Toni Boyd 12:42 pm 19 Jan 20

Michael Weaver thank you for sharing this I just pray that someone comes up with a sane solution so that these fires never happen to this extent again, I certainly don’t have the answers and I don’t know who does I have come to realise that Australians have a bigger heart than I had come to realise, I lost faith in fellow man until I moved to Ulladulla and was moved by their love and generosity and now you see it all along the east coast of Aussie land …..these men who fought the fires were angels in disguise unfortunately they could not save all people and wildlife or homes and it weighs heavy on them but we love them and their efforts as Jake from Dog Leg Farm tried to show them…..God Bless all of you

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