Picking up the pieces

Childowla Road resident and farmer, Ian Bush, said he and his wife Dee really “copped a hammering” when the Cobbler Road fire tore through their property.

Mr Bush lost 1100 acres, equating to 95 per cent of his property and he also lost 700, one and two-year-old ewes. He could only save around 1000.

The number of stock that had been reported dead to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) had reached nearly 8000 at the time of writing.

By Wednesday, 7816 sheep, 51 cattle, five horses and one alpaca had died as a result of the Cobbler Road blaze.

However, according to Robert Forbes DPI acting controller in Goulburn, that figure will no doubt rise.

“We don’t expect numbers to rise drastically, but there are always odd stock found and added to the list,” he told the Tribune.

Another DPI spokesperson said that 19,100 hectares were burnt in the fire, which included 62 separate properties. 

Incredibly, Mr Bush, who is also the Bookham fire captain, wasn’t even home when the fire ravaged his property. He was on duty with his team at a nearby fire front.

“I was down the road with the crew dealing with another spot,” he revealed.

“I didn’t make it back home until the fire had already torn through the place.”

“Even if I had been home, we wouldn’t have been able to stop it. The fire was just too intense. We were very lucky our home and sheds were saved.”

He said the problem was the conditions on Tuesday, it was impossible to stop the blaze.

He said he was thankful the volunteers had saved his home but at the same time it’s simply “what you do as a firie”.

“They (crews from out of town) look after us when we have a fire and in return we look after them when they run into trouble. It’s how it works.”

Along with the sheep lost, fencing is the other big thing weighing on Mr Bush’s mind.

“It’s impossible to say how much fencing we have actually lost, we have lost almost all of it though.”

Mr Bush said it would take roughly six months to get back to his normal routine as a farmer but even that depended on the seasons.

“We need to sort adjistment for some sheep, decide which we’ll keep here and hand-feed, and then get into the fencing. It will be five to six months, at least, before we are back operating normally again.

“We also won’t have an income for six months. Farming is our income, that is going to be a major problem.”

Mr Bush said the support from the community had been incredible.

“The amount of people that have offered to help has been tremendous. That’s the most overwhelming thing that’s come out of it all.”

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