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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Modern technology - keeps us in touch

Over the past days - since Saturday in fact - Dh and his exservicemen friends have been keeping in touch. Some of these Mates live out of the suburbs and this is their way to make sure those in the fire zone areas were accounted for.

Its a long entry so if you would rather not read thats fine but it does show the concern (sometimes called mateship) men can show in times of trouble that that maybe doesn't get shown otherwise'

The reference to Teleg is because Telegraphists were the ones who were in charge of communications and supposed to be able to communicate 'properly'

One of us is missing

I have had no news from Mike and it appears the telephone lines are down or the exchange damaged, as I can’t get through. Aileen and Peter, Trevor and Meegan, Tony and Meg and Gerry and Flo are all OK

I'll let you know about Mike and Jan as soon as I hear anything. As you may know Mike lives in Clombinane and there has been a death in that area. Haven't heard from Wilf, as you may all know he lives in the Mirboo area which was badly effected by fires

Den I contacted Wilf last week, here is his reply.

Thank you for your concern everyone. I am OK here the fires were about 9km from me to the north.The winds were also coming from the south so the smoke was being blown away from me as well as the direction of the fires.Apart from that Mirboo is in a farming area where most of it is cleared for farming. Most of the farmers had already cut and baled their hay so the fields around were pretty bare.

Here is a map that shows the location of the fires. If you click on the map it will expand.
At the bottom between the numbers 30 and 31 you will see a place called Limonite. There is a road running south I am just of the map there.I have my spa and baths full of water just in case the electricity fails and I have a petrol driven pump that I can pump from the three 5,000 gallon tanks I have They are virtually full.Regards

There is no news of Mike and Jan. However, the load of work hitting the aid stations where displaced survivors are congregating is huge. The registration process, and the subsequent database that will enable people to be found, could take some time. I guess we will have to be patient.

Dear all,

Still unable to make contact with Mike, I think I tracked down Jan's tel number but there was no answer when I called so it's likely they are both still at Clombinane looking after their home. Mike W checked with Red Cross and got through to the right dept, it was always engaged when I rang, and evidently they are not registered with them so they have no news. Thanks for all the telephone calls enquiring after Mike and Janelle and our other members.

Think a lot of us have been affected in some way by the fires. One of our close friends son lost his two homes in Kinglake with all their possessions and we learnt only an hour or so ago about our friend Colin. He lives in Melb but had an old family home in Marysville they have also lost so much Colin and his daughter are now stuck at Buxton

Dear all,
Just hung up from talking to Gerry. He and Flo are loaded up and ready to leave Healesville as the fire has resumed in the Mt Riddell area and it could come their way. After looking at recent devastation they are not going to defend their home, they'll leave the area. Communications have failed so they have no computer access, regular landline is on the blink and they are on mobile but its in emergency mode only. I'll let you know how things go tomorrow

Dear all,
Herewith message from Mike

D can you put out a General email thanking everyone for there kind thoughts etc I will answer them ALL when i have more time its still a bit full one here the sirens have just sounded again. My family in uk reported me missing and i have to unravel that.
Regards Mike

This is the email we received from our treasured mate who has been causing us so much angst over the last few days. Being a teleg. he has yet to discover the delights of 'caps'. Except in the wrong place, but we still love him.

Just got power and phones back 5 minutes ago. Can you forward this to all members please. We are Ok but it was a close run thing i can honestly say we spent 18 hours in hell. i did not think at one stage we would survive it. Nearly 50 degrees and 90 klick winds the thing come over the hill and was upon us so fast i could not believe it. All we could see was dense smoke rolling in then about 20 meters from us a wall of flame just appeared it was bloody terrifying but the house and we survived with no damage. The bloody thing got to with in five yards before we stopped it if it had not been for a fire truck from yea and another from Welshpool getting to us in the nick of time we would have lost it. We where on our feet fighting fire from around 3pm Saturday until 7am Sunday morning. The out come was i got blisters on the soles of my feet not from fire but just being on my feet for so long. We are still getting flare ups around us and are still blacking out hot spots but with very little to burn i think the danger for us is over. Some one died down the road don't know who yet and most of the house and farms going to to mound disappointment are lost but the actual losses we do not know as yet but every where we go and look there are burnt out houses. Saturday and Sunday i do not want to see a repeat off. As I said we are fine perhaps a little traumatized and shell shocked at the moment, but hopefully a good nights sleep tonight will fix that. Thanks to all for your concern it was much appreciated.
Regards Mike

PS he also hasn't realised that those little dots can make full stops.....................................My God.......some of those rough entry's leave a lot to be desired.

Just had a 20-minute chat with Mike on the phone .......................so you all know that he is OK. My phone conversation with him confirms that.

Dennis and I will be driving up to see him tomorrow (about an hour north of Melbourne) to deliver essentials. Mike seems to think that beer should be on the top of the list...............is this typical of ex telegs? We will let our imaginations run riot and come up with some other stuff to replenish a house that has been without power for 3 days. In anticipation, we will pass on your best-felt wishes. He is pretty chirpy and jumped at the prospect of visitors...................we shall give him a hug from each and every one of you......................

Dear all,
Trevor suggested we take a run up to Clombinane to have a get together with Mike, which we did today. Mike's and Janelle are still pretty shaken by it all and we could see just how close the fire came. Mike gave us all the detail and it must have been a very frightening experience in deed. We then took a run around the area that still has some roads blocked off and small fires still burning in places. I think what got to us was the devastation of areas and then the odd untouched area, and the collapsed houses with the tin roofs some how moulded like plastic over the remains which were often no higher than a metre or so. The historic Clombinane mansion, which evidently could hardly been seen from the road formerly, is now clearly visible standing burnt out with the tower still standing, this building was one of the oldest in the area which was named after it, and probably goes back to 1840 odd has survived over the years and now gone, this leaves Mike's home which was built in 1875 as the oldest in the district.

The intensity of the fires is difficult to comprehend; like many I've seen burnt out areas before but this is different, the ground is not blackened but white or grey in colour and has a very soft texture underfoot, kind off burnt to a gypsum like dust. Fence posts are completely gone burnt to dust as are wooden power poles. Postal cable concrete covers are burnt through, we saw a mature gum tree probably two metres in girth which had been blooming with the entire interior burnt out with just the external thin walls left and all the tree top canopy kind of blown of in its entirety and lying complete with leaves alongside. Paddocks which clearly had little vegetation on them before the fire had been burnt out completely and there are miles and miles of burnt out hills, valleys and paddocks and in the distance the entire King Lake district hills are all burnt out and all along the roads fallen trees.

All very strange and disturbing as though a gigantic blowtorch had been turned on the land. Mike said they could hear explosion after explosion through the smoke as gas bottles and fuel tanks exploded but they couldn't be seen through the smoke but one of the worst things was hearing horse screaming and cattle bellowing as they died in the flames

I fought a fire once but that was different and this has left me feeling strangely disturbed as though something alien has come my way.



  1. Good Morning Cathy, a very interesting and informative post. It puts more light on what you've all been going through over there. Such devastation and loss of life, so sad. My prayers are with you all. Denise x

  2. Hi Cathy It must have been such a worry for you until you heard news that your friend was okay. It is very hard to track people amongst such devastation. Men really do have a different kind of mateship to us. Being exserviceman I guess it would be a very strong bond. My son is in the Army & his mates become like brothers as of course they depend on each other with their lives.


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