AS the seasons move into spring, Gnotuk couple Anna Carrucan and Irwin Lowe are working on establishing new garden beds.
Dr Carrucan said six months on from the St Patrick’s Day fires the couple had been able to pick up some of the pieces they’d put to the side in the immediate aftermath.
About 95 per cent of their 25-hectare property was affected. “It’s been a presence in our lives both physically and mentally,” she said. “One phrase that strikes me as interesting is when people inquire have you recovered from the fire.
“I don’t think you do, it just becomes a part of you and it’s an experience. We didn’t lose our home, we’re only dealing with half of what others are.”
Dr Carrucan said they found out during the night the house had survived and they returned home before sunrise. She said CFA volunteers were at the house when the fire hit and she believed they had to shelter behind the house. “We can’t thank people enough,” she said.
It has been a presence in our lives both physically and mentally.Anna Carrucan
Dr Carrucan said she would try and prepare herself for when the signs of summer arrived.
“In another six weeks the grass could be drying out,” she said. “I might have to prepare myself.”
In the meantime, Dr Carrucan will focus on re-establishing her garden.
“It’s amazing just how positive the sunshine and the slightly longer days give you a different perspective,” she said.
Mayor says there’s a long road to go
CORANGAMITE Shire mayor Jo Beard says there is still a lot of work to be done for those recovering from the St Patrick’s Day fires.
Cr Beard said there were some farmers who were only now accessing certain replacement fencing that they couldn’t get during the winter.
“We have to remember the landscape has completely changed for a lot of these people,” she said.
“A lot of these properties have got no trees leading into summer. There’s still so much reinstatement that needs to occur that some of these people still don’t know where to start. The farming sector has had another tough year so the fires just compounded what was already a difficult time for some people. Obviously then you have that flow-on effect into the towns and certainly our townships are noticing.”
Cr Beard said the council’s fire recovery team was working closely with property owners and checking in on how people were traveling. She said that she and council staff had regular catch-ups with Cobden Blaze Aid camp co-ordinator Chris Male.
“She is such a critical link in our process because she helps us acknowledge where more support is needed,” she said. “They’ve got the people out on those properties every day. It has been a real complex recovery because people have been affected in so many different ways.
“The recovery is so diverse that you could never prepare for this and we’re just so grateful that to this day we still have everyone accounted for.”
Cr Beard encouraged Corangamite Shire residents to attend barbecues in the shire as a way to connect with others and acknowledge the work that had been done.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.