ABC Journalist Stephanie Watson came and spent most of a day with us and put the following report together:
There are pictures and audio on the ABC website.
I have reposted her written content here.:
Fresh, green grass has finally returned to the Kybeyan Valley in south-east NSW, after bushfires tore through the region earlier this year.
Emma Jefferson lost 90 per cent of her pastures, 45 kilometres of fencing and more than 1000 head of sheep to the Yarrabin fire in January.
Three months on however, Emma says the recovery process has only just begun.
“We’ve had some decent rain, so we’ve got a lot of germination and the country actually looks beautiful, emerald green.
“The tussocks are burnt out and the quality of feed for sheep right now is good.
“The time when it’s going to get really tough is actually through winter.
“I think that’s when the cash flow problems from the fires are going to hit the most and the feed at that time of year is never good and that’s when it could be tough for the livestock.
“So it’s actually going to be six to eight months after the fires that the worst effects are really going to hit home.”
Emma says she can now see life getting back to normal, one day, but only because of the support she’s received from family, friends, the local community and BlazeAid.
“I just really want to say thank you to all of the individuals who have helped out.
“They’ve just turned up and really saved our bacon.
“We would have been in a complete mess if it wasn’t for the people around us.
“There are so many of them and I am so grateful.”
Trevor Ward is just one of many BlazeAid volunteers who have assisted Emma with the recovery process on her farm.
Trevor first got involved with BlazeAid in 2012, after the floods in Wagga.
He says he wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
“A lot of places where you go to, people are crying when you get there and they’re smiling when you leave so that gives you a big boost.
“And I’d rather be out here, in the fresh air and the warmth, than knocking about in a city with dust and pollution.
“Where the hurrying people daunt me and their pallid faces haunt me.
“As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste.
“Where their eager eyes and greedy and their stunted forms and weedy.
“For the town folk have no time to wait they have not time to grow.
“Banjo Paterson, Clancy of the Overflow!”
Bob Cross has been volunteering with BlazeAid since 2009, when the Black Friday fires devastated Victoria.
He says BlazeAid does more than just mend fences.
“BlazeAid not only physically helps the farmer, it restores their mental attitude as well.
“It really helps greatly.
“Otherwise they’d be years doing this work, or give up, one or the other.
“In lots of cases, you see the transformation of the farmer.
“The first two or three days you’re on his property, he’s flat, he’s not feeling all that chirpy, but after he can see what’s going on, and the fences start to go up, it changes their attitude completely.”
Trevor says those farmers who need help should never be afraid to ask for it.
“Some people are almost too proud to ask for help.
“I think a lot of Australians suffer from this, a lot of landholders think ‘I can do it on my own’ or it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help, but it’s not and you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help.”
For more information about BlazeAid you can visit their website, blazeaid.com.au.