Black Summer Bushfires

The 2019-20 Australian bushfire season saw an astonishing 186,000 square kilometres of bushland burned, with more than 5900 buildings (including 2779 homes) destroyed and at least 34 people killed. This national catastrophe became known as ‘Black Summer’.

One area badly affected was the MidCoast Council Area in NSW. In November 2019, the area was struck by horrendous bushfires and within a couple of weeks 120 families had lost their homes. Many of the properties not entirely destroyed lost significant infrastructure, with hundreds of kilometres of fences burned and critical water storage lost.

Rotary clubs in the Taree area launched an appeal and rapidly received (with minimum fuss) a disaster relief grant of US$25,000 (AU$37,000) from The Rotary Foundation. These funds were used to provide emergency replacement of water tanks and rural fencing for those affected.

Local resident and Rotary Foundation Australia Chair PDG Maurie Stack said, in addition to relief efforts, they also wanted to do something to protect the area from future bushfires.

“Two remote villages, Bobin and Caparra, suffered heavy loss, largely because their fire brigade trucks had to travel considerable distances to obtain a load of water to protect each home,” Maurie said.

“That’s partly because extreme bushfires tend to follow major droughts. After the fires, we applied for and received a grant of about AU$75,000 – substantially from The Rotary Foundation but also including funds raised through Rotary Australia World Community Service – to build and fill two 100,000 litre water tanks at Bobin and the village of Wherrol Flat. The water in these tanks will be used exclusively by fire brigade trucks, with the water in the tanks being managed by the local fire brigades.

“The project is also paying for a local Bushfire Danger Alert sign, automated to display messages from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, as well as roof-mounted water protection for the Bobin Community Hall.”

The people of Bobin, Caparra and Wherrol Flat have expressed their deep appreciation to Rotary and The Rotary Foundation for this much-needed support of their community.