Tamboon locals battle the blaze with great support

Tamboon locals battle the blaze with great support

The remote settlement of Tamboon was one of a number of communities impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires.

The community is 30 kilometres by road from the nearest town, Cann River.

The one access road vulnerable to fire was impacted during the January fires, preventing evacuation and the provision of supplies at critical times.

The community comprises permanent and part-time residents and combined with campers and other visitation during peak holiday periods within the fire season there can be upwards of 100 people in the community.

Access into and out of Tamboon was closed on December 30, 2019, and not opened for locals until January 29 and reopened to the general public in mid February.

Eleven residents remained throughout the January fire to prepare defences and fight the fire.

From December 30 until January 13, a community built firefighting trailer was used to hose down buildings, fences, wood heaps and vegetation around houses.

On January 13, the fire impacted and burnt over the fire break and ember attacks caused many spot fires in the settlement.

The fortuitous arrival of a single CFA tanker, manned by two part-time residents who are volunteer CFA members who forced their way in just prior to the main fire front enveloping and devastating the surrounding bush and burning to the doorstep of several properties, enabled all houses to be saved.

Evacuation by boat of all residents, except the firefighters, to the beach occurred on three separate occasions.

Intermittent food, essential medication and fuel supplies were brought in by the Australian Defence Force and other agencies as conditions permitted.

In the aftermath of the fires, in recognition of the need to further support the fire defence team, numerous monetary donations were received and a new dual axle trailer was donated to initiate the construction of a second firefighting trailer.

An account for the Tamboon Volunteer Bushfire Brigade was set up to manage these funds.

On May 16, at a community meeting, the Tamboon Peachtree Association (TPA) was formed as a direct consequence of the experience of the January fires and recognition of the need for a legal entity to represent both the community and the environment with the purpose of protecting life, property and the environment.

TPA adopted the model rules for an association and applied for and received a Certificate of Incorporation on May 24. Following this ABN and TFN were applied for and received and on the June 16 a bank account was established.

Funds deposited into the Tamboon Volunteer Bushfire Brigade account were transferred into TPA account.

Specific initial goals defined and discussed were:

  • Fire awareness and prevention: fire equipment and shed for storage, fuel load management on private properties, fire break and road access.
  • Safe boat access to the lake under all conditions; this is part of the emergency evacuation plan during bushfire threat.
  • Assess, survey and document flora and fauna in Tamboon and surrounds.

A high priority key objective of TPA is to identify solutions, including funding, to mitigate the significant threat the community faces during bushfires.

A submission has been made to the CommBank Bushfire Recovery Grants to gain funding to construct a centralised fire equipment store shed and to fit out a second firefighting trailer.

A number of residents are applying to become volunteer firefighters adding to the seven existing members.

On June 29, a community meeting with numerous agencies, including CFA, DELWP, Parks Victoria, East Gippsland Shire and Bushfire Recovery Victoria), was carried out to review and discuss the recent bushfires, the community readiness and recovery, what worked well, lessons learnt and community needs.

Further meetings with the council’s community planning coordinator, Sueanne Claringbould, are being organised to have the Tamboon community represented in the Cann Valley District community plan.

IMAGE: Fisherman’s Track at Tamboon after the January bushfires. (PS)