May 18, 2017
by Kaitlyn Estens
When Pip and Maureen Sullivan spent two weeks at the BlazeAid camp in Dunedoo, helping to erect fences following the Sir Ivan Bushfire, they were blown away by the volunteer effort underway.
The camp, which has been in operation since early this year, is being coordinated by Laurie Dawson, who also spearheaded the Wambelong bushfire re- fencing program in 2013.
As of Sunday, 14 May, 482 volunteers had registered with the camp, equating to 3653 volunteer days. So far, 260.37 kilometres of damaged fencing has been cleared, with 178.62km rebuilt.
Pip Sullivan said her recent experience working with BlazeAid had been life changing.
“We were not sure if we could contribute much, but felt we had to try,” Pip said.
“Right from the start everyone made us very welcome as we set up our caravan at the showground in Dunedoo.
“There are about 80 people in this camp alone, and for some, it is their seventh or eighth camp.
“Everybody is very happy and all get along so well.”
One of the first people Pip and Maureen met was Kev Tuohy (known as Little Kev), from Western Australia.
At that stage, Kev had already been at the Dunedoo camp for 43 days, only taking a day off when needed.
“I can offer something, and I get a good feeling by helping other people,” said Kev.
“Little drops in the bucket will eventually fill the bucket.
“BlazeAid is like a big, happy family”.
The Aussie way
Peter Andersen, from Victoria, is in his 70s and has been helping BlazeAid since 2009.
Mr Anderson said he loved being able to help people in need.
“It’s the Aussie way!” Mr Anderson said.
“BlazeAid is run very professionally and each camp is like a big family.
“It does not matter if you are married or single, young or old, experienced or not, everybody works together.”
The feedback from fire-affected landholders also reflects the positive rehabilitation work underway. Many farmers have already pledged to assist at future BlazeAid camps.
Rob Lennon, from Gundooee Organics, Leadville, said he was grateful for every BlazeAid volunteer that had worked on his property.
“From their first day here they made their kindly presence felt,” Mr Lennon said.
“For me, it was as much about mending my faith in the world as it was the general work.”
After two weeks chipping in at Dunedoo, both Pip and Maureen didn’t want to leave.
“We were amazed at the generosity and willingness of people to help total strangers,” Maureen said.
“These volunteers have given up so much to help and they will do anything without expecting any rewards.
“The people we met were prepared to put their life on hold, work all day, in the heat or cold, and use their own vehicles and quite often travel hundreds of kilometres.
“The BlazeAid volunteers are definitely unsung heroes.”
Leadville farmer, Angus Lennon, pictured with BlazeAid volunteers Ken and Jeanette Webb, from Wauchope, and Rob and Pam Luke, from Wollongong.
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