North Rosedale’s vessel with a message collected by National Museum of Australia

Alex Rea5 December 2020
Jack Egan standing next to boat in bush.

Jack Egan in North Rosedale with his boat and its message of climate change. Photo: Supplied.

All vessels carry something and a small tinnie from bushfire ravaged North Rosedale, on the NSW South Coast, will carry a message of climate action to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

As southeast Australia awoke on New Year’s Day in 2020, the full catastrophe of the fires was still only coming to light.

The news that all but a few of the houses in North Rosedale had been destroyed was hard to fathom.

Among the residents to lose their Dale Place home were Jack Egan and Cathy Bowdler.

Dale Place in North Rosedale following bushfire.

Dale Place, North Rosedale, in the bushfire aftermath in January 2020. Photo: Alex Rea.

Jack stayed to defend his property, but was overwhelmed by the ferocity of the blaze. His boat was left a twisted wreck from the furnace.

As a member of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA), Jack’s tinnie is painted with the message ‘We Want Climate Action!’

On Tuesday, 24 November, the boat was farewelled as National Museum of Australia representatives collected it for preservation. That boat is now part of the museum’s collection, along with the firies’ drinks fridge from Bungendore.

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The climate action boat was one of the few things left standing when Jack and Cathy returned to the site of their destroyed home.

“This is significant for our collective movement as it graphically recognises both the shocking consequences of climate change and the groundswell movement for climate action,” says Jack.

“It marks the historic devastation and tragedy that was Black Summer. It marks that the new ferocities of the recent long drought and shocking fires was climate driven. And it marks the historic groundswell grassroots community movement for climate action.”

Members of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action.

Members of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action at the handover of the boat to the National Museum of Australia. Photo: Supplied.

Jack was joined on the day by Nathan Harris, who originally painted the boat with Jack.

“Last December, I was here sitting out on the back deck with Cath and Jack,” says Nathan. “We talked about what was happening with the fires to the north. Having been a forest officer, I felt I had something to offer. But none of us could have predicted the ferocity, the extent and the strangeness of the fires that were to come.”

Men lifting tinnie boat onto trailer.

The National Museum of Australia collects Jack Egan’s boat for the trip to Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Michelle Hamrosi, local GP and a member of Parents for Climate Action, and Jed Johnson, president of Climate Action Now Signs Incorporated, were also at the handover event.

BSCA was founded shortly after the Tathra bushfire in March 2018 to raise the voices of people impacted by bushfires. Members are people who lost their homes, communities, loved ones and peace of mind in bushfires. They are people who have fought fires as Rural Fire Service volunteers, community leaders concerned about the impact and growing risks of bushfires, and primary producers who’ve watched stock and wildlife impacted by bushfires and their aftereffects.

Jack’s full story has been published on the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action website.

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