Since September, Canungra and Beechmont have battled fires, droughts and water shortages, there have been homes lost, families displaced, hardship and tears.
But there have also been ordinary people doing extraordinary things. These are a few of the people who went above and beyond – showing that extraordinary circumstances really do bring out the best in some people.
Canungra Hardware: Rebecca and David Torrens helped out local farmers and horse owners by collecting donations for livestock and wildlife feed after the bushfires. Assisted by Lauren Phillips, they delivered straight to the farmer’s gates immediately after the fires to ensure the animals didn’t go hungry.
Kelly Casey: Kelly has been busy with livestock feed as well, and has been instrumental in sourcing feed – especially hay – which is becoming more and more difficult to find.
Canungra Op Shop: All the team at Canungra Op Shop, who are primarily volunteers, were hard at work sorting donations during the fires and helping out people who had been evacuated or needed assistance. Special mention to Caroline Andrew, who arranged with the Op Shop committee for donations to be taken and distributed to people who need them immediately. The Canungra Op Shop has helped with everything from clothing needs to water and a bit of moral support for people as well.
Ree Lister: Ree wanted to organise a Ute Muster style fundraiser before the bushfires were even over! With many Canungra Show Society people unable to assist (fires threatening their properties), she organised the fundraiser which has helped pay for livestock feed.
GIVIT: GIVIT got off to a shaky start but has since partnered with the Canungra Op Shop and QCWA Beechmountain to assist with all sorts of requests – including water pumps and new furniture for people who lost homes.
Canungra and Beechmont Rural Fire Brigade: These guys are our heroes. Every one of them is a volunteer. They spent weeks, unpaid, fighting fires and they stay on the fire ground until the job is done. There are untold numbers of people who owe these men and women their homes, and their lives. Many of them are still fighting fires in the Western part of the region. Thank you will never be enough.
Dreamworld: This year, Halloween came to the farm! When Dreamworld finished its Halloween celebrations, they offered the decorations to local farmers – 2000 pumpkins and three truck loads of much needed barley hay for cattle. This was all delivered by Dreamworld – and very much appreciated by the hungry cattle.
Mark Stollznow from Canungra Mowers: After the fires, I (Keer) saw post on a community page asking for a lawn mower for family who lost their home in the fires on Beechmont. On Friday, I gave Mark a call and he said he had a second hand mower the family could have. When I checked in with him he said decided to give them a brand new mower so they had something reliable with warranty. I have to admit I almost started crying.
Owen Slingsby: Owen, age 6, lives on Beechmont and was evacuated during the fires. Owen wrote the song ‘When Fires Start’, which is available on YouTube. Owen said he just made up the words one day. His mother, Catherine, helped with the music and his father, Paul helped with the video clip. The lyrics are: “When fires start – all the animals go away/ But after the fires, all the animals come back/ and they all struggle to find water and they struggle to find food too”. Owens says many of the animals have returned to the home including bush turkeys, ducks, wallabies, pademelons, pigeons, finches and king parrots.
Tamlyn Geiger: Tam spent so long at the Showground sorting donations that the area became known as ‘Tam’s Drop Off’. Tam and her team were an invaluable part of the people assisting people who had been evacuated and the fire fighters during the bushfires.
Jamie Bramich: Cheryl and Paul Kingsman’s son, Scott, has Dushenne Muscular Dystrophy. Jamie met the family when he quoted on building a pool for Scott. Jamie contacted Hayward Australia Pool Products about a heater for the pool and Tony Sharp of Hayward gave a massive 70% discount off the heater. Jamie also threw in an upgraded pool chlorinator and he and his plumber, Ray installed it for free. Cheryl said when Jamie told her what he was going to do for them, they were all crying – including Jamie.
Sarabah Road Residents: Most of these residents spent two weeks fighting fires on their own and each others’ properties. This is a community that supports each other through flooding and bushfires. There are stories of neighbours grabbing tree branches to beat the fire back, finding injured koalas and using their earthmoving equipment to make fire breaks. Special mention to the Luscombe family who always seem to be going above and beyond to help their neighbours out.
QCWA Beechmountain and the ‘Sons of Beechmont’: The ‘Ash Army’ went to Timbarra Drive to cleanup of blocks where homes were lost and out buildings and yards damaged. They arranged a skip bin (funded by donations) and the group of 11 locals and six Beechmont men who now live on the coast were able to assist five families.