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Ongoing situation down-under

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Hi Folks,
The following is part of an email I sent to a friend in Holland who was enquiring about our welbeing in this crisis. I figured that some of you might have been wondering too.

"Sandy and I are safe and our property is undamaged....for now. I say "For Now" because this damned awful summer isn't over yet. There are 2 large fires burning close by to us. One in the North and another in the South, south west. Presently their status is "Being Controlled" which is comforting compared to the "Out of Control" status they've had for weeks. "Under control" would be better though.

We have had 4 emergency warnings so far, where we were supposed to evacuate. As you know, we did so the first time where we, our Children, Grandchildren, dogs and 85yo Mother in Law drove in convoy to Canberra. 4 days later we returned home. Since then we have ignored one evacuation warning and another time we took shelter in the local Evacuation Center, a large basketball stadium in the town's show-ground. That night we slept on camp mattress's on the floor, while incredibly high winds blew one fire into our township and got to about 1.5kms NNW from our home. The night spent with many other people, their children dogs & cats. It certainly wasn't home, but it wasn't too uncomfortable, all things considered.

At the present, conditions are relatively calm, giving the firefighters a chance to get on top of the situation by strengthening containment lines and preparing for 2 more days with high winds and high temperatures on Friday and Saturday. We've had water bombing aircraft flying low over our house nearly every day for about 3 weeks now. But just yesterday, in preparation for these 2 bad days ahead, 5 Air Tractors, flew non stop for around 6 hours water bombing a fire which is presently about 2 kms to the SSW of us.

We have friends who have been impacted. One or two who have lost everything they own. Tomorrow I have an appointment to have a crown fitted to a bad tooth, but my dentist, lost everything except his house. Sheds, decks, fences, water tanks, swimming pool etc. Even our Vintage Machinery Club lost its headquarters. All the tractors, engines, tools pumps, ....everything, gone. Some of which was VERY valuable.

I'm expecting (& hoping) that we will get out of all this relatively unscathed. However, one of the bad days ahead could quite easily destroy everything we own. If that happens, I can fall back on the small comfort of knowing that its all insured. But I will never feel comfortable again, living where I live, nearby to a Eucalyptus filled National Park. A few weeks back the media interviewed a retired Rural Fire Service Superintendent, Phil Koperburg, who said.....

"Nobody in their right mind would build a home or village in the middle of an oil refinery. So why do they build in the middle of a Eucalyptus forest? Its the same thing."

He's 100% correct and I've always know this. But the lure of milder temperatures, nearby beaches, great fishing and to a lesser degree, the bush itself, was just too great to ignore and we bought land here 20 years ago. Now though, I could quite easily move back inland, where there aren't any National Parks. Just farms".

The two images I've attached show how Auckland New Zealand, a 3 hour flight from Sydney, looked at Midday on the 3rd January 2020 and another from a passenger jet...."Welcome to Australia"

I have (nearly) finished my Lone Wolf Railroad, but still haven't run a Loco on it. I was really looking forward to spending the Autumn, Winter and next Spring on enjoying it. So please folks, keep your fingers crossed for us and hope that it still exists at the end of the awful Summer.

All the best.


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  1. Jugtown Modeler's Avatar
    Wow. Just seeing this. Must be challenging to be going through all that. My heart goes out to your country's pain and losses.
    Glad to hear you have been safe so far and pray for your continued safety.