A bush capital

A bush capital

16 February 2007

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — Despite losing two of his homes to fire, ACTRegional Manager for Parks, Conservation & Land, Brett McNamara saysbushfires are a natural part of our landscape, and emphasises that worldlypossessions mean very little when lives are at stake.

Filming and recording with Brett McNamara on Canberra’s3rd hottest day on record evoked many memories for the ACT Regional Manager forParks, Conservation & Land. He suffered serious material losses in January2003, so the subject of fire couldn’t be avoided.

Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve inthe ACT are the northernmost points of the Australian Alps Nationals Parkscollective. Brett prefers to describe them as “the beginning of theAustralian alps” to gently taunt his Victorian colleagues.

The Australian Alps Walking Track begins (or ends!) atthe back of the Namadgi Visitors Centre, and takes the adventurous on a 650kmwalk across the rooftop of Australia, coming out at the Victorian town ofWalhalla.

By 11am it was 37 degrees, and as a deputy fire captainBrett had to keep an ear on the radio at all times. Fortunately no incidents hadbeen reported so far.

Brett and Michelle and their two children, Jordan andGemma, lived on Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve until their home was destroyed onJanuary 18, 2003. Those same fires also destroyed their previous home, atBendora Dam, also in the ACT.

“But at both sites the garages survived,” Brettsaid. “And what do you keep in your garage? Broken crap! I think there’ssomething special about McNamaras and their garages!”

The remains of the house might be gone, but Brett’sbroken down lawnmower sits proudly on the garage slab. He picked up some glassthat had melted, “I think this used to be a wine glass,” he lamented.

Brett said that moving on in life was critical followingthe fires, especially for their children.

“Life is a series of chapters and you have to keepthings in perspective,” he pointed out. “In fact the kids adjusted totown life in Canberra quicker than Michelle or I.”

We continued on to Tidbinbilla’s new wetland developmentthat will occur over the next 12 months or so, a project that has Brett veryexcited.

“Visitors will enjoy an extraordinary experience.There’ll be boardwalks and a place where they can walk down steps so that thewater is at eye-level, which will be fastastic for seeing the wetland movingpast,” he explained, adding that Mother Nature would have to do her bit andprovide a little moisture to the Tidbinbilla River.

Despite enormous losses, professional and personalupheaval, Brett McNamara is tremendously positive and highly respected amongsthis colleagues. And on a blistering 43 degree day (that thankfully remained firefree in the ACT), he’s the right person with whom to share a ride around aNational Park!

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