Ballarat, Victoria, Australia — It is easy for those of us not directly affected by district bushfires early in the year to think that life has moved on for those who were.
The reality is, however, that many are still struggling to come to terms with the impact the bushfires have had on themselves and their communities.
On Saturday, The Courier revisited the township of Snake Valley, which was devastated by fire on March 12.
The fires destroyed six homes and 3100 ha of land. Countless thousands of animals perished.
While it is true that the environment has begun to heal – patches of green can now be seen across the landscape – there is still much healing to done within the community itself.
The emotional scars attached to a bushfire run as deep as the physical ones.
As CFA volunteer Terry Taplin, who lost his own home while fighting to save the homes of others, said: “It’s a slow process.”
Of course, insurance companies and government agencies have been there to assist in the recovery process.
But in a true act of community spirit, the people of Snake Valley have been pitching in to help themselves.
Working bees on the properties of those in need are a regular occurrence – neighbours helping neighbours, friends helping friends.
Not only does this type of assistance help rebuild lost infrastructure, but it also aids in keeping alive the community spirit so common in small towns.
At this chilly time of year, it’s hard to imagine a bushfire cutting a swathe through the region. But let’s not forget there are those among us for whom the memories are still very fresh.
Rain brings hope of a better month
After a disappointing June, when rainfall in Ballarat was at its lowest on record, July seems to have got off to a more promising start.
On the first day of July we recorded more than 8mm of rain compared to 12.8mm of rain for the whole of last month.
Hopeful as we may be that July will bring a return to average monthly rainfalls, we should not jump to the conclusion that the ongoing dry may be over.
Ballarat’s water problems are years away from being solved – and lack of rainfall isn’t the only problem. Yes, we should rejoice when good rains come, but let’s not get complacent about the work that needs to be done to secureour region’s water supplies into the future.