Arts & Culture

Focus on Bega Valley bushfire stories at writing workshop this weekend

By Ian Campbell 25 February 2019
Tathra Beach, looking south from Mogareeka. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Tathra Beach, looking south from Mogareeka. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

As the first anniversary of the Reedy Swamp, Vimy Ridge, and Tathra Bushfire draws near people are being invited to record their story guided by a professional author.

Sixty-five homes were lost to the flames of March 18 2018, it’s a day that will forever be remembered in Bega Valley history. Hundreds of people have their own unique story tied to the events of that day and the days that have followed.

Inspired by the positive impact sharing stories can have in peoples growth after the fires, the “Stories of March 18” group has pulled together a free writing workshop the will be facilitated by award-winning writer Peter Shepherd.

“Whether you were fighting the fires as a firefighter, evacuating your home, watching homes and the environment you love being burnt to ash or hearing the news from afar and unable to do anything about it, each of us has an important story,” says group spokesperson Jani Klotz.

“And each of us carries those stories and experiences within us and with the anniversary of the March 18 fires fast approaching, many people are revisiting their memories of that day.

“Telling those stories is a powerful way for people and communities to heal from trauma. We do it instinctively.”

The group was successful in securing a recovery grant from Bega Valley Shire Council to run this weekend’s writing workshop; hoping it might be the prompt and assistance people need to face that blank page.

“The workshop is about offering people who were affected by the fires the opportunity to tell their story in writing,” Ms Koltz says.

“This is open to anyone who was affected by the fires that impacted our region in 2018, whether in and around Tathra or at Bemboka with the Yankees Gap Fire.

“Professional counselling support will also be available on the day for anyone who might need it.”

The one day workshop is free and will run on both March 2 and 3 in the conference room at Tathra Beach House Apartments. Interested people are invited to book in for either day, numbers are limited, phone Jan Harris on 0429 042 343.

“The workshop will be held in a relaxed and supported environment with the aim of helping people creatively transform and process the events of these fires and their aftermath,” Ms Koltz says.

“Also, there is the hope that we can collect these stories, together with archival footage, drawings, photographs, and any other material relevant to the fires, so that they may become a record of these significant events in the history of the Bega Valley.”

What's Your Opinion?

3 Responses to Focus on Bega Valley bushfire stories at writing workshop this weekend

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Derith 2:06 pm 25 Feb 19

Great idea but why only one. this should be just the beginning of many creative opportunities for people to express their hurt.

Lyn Gillam 1:39 pm 25 Feb 19

This is a wonderful idea and a great way to help people heal! We are from Melbourne and will be arriving in Tathra on Sunday (late). We were at Tathra Beachside on that awful Sunday last year and were evacuated to Bermagui. Even though we won't make it to the sessions are we able to somehow contribute our story?

    Ian Campbell 1:54 pm 25 Feb 19

    Hi Lyn, Thanks for sharing your memory and experience, yours would be a good one to add to the mix Call Jan on the phone number in the story or email - [email protected] Enjoy to your time in Tathra!

    Cheers Ian

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