ROUGHING IT: Kermie’s son Nick is the intrepid camper. Photo: Graham Harsant
ROUGHING IT: Kermie’s son Nick is the intrepid camper. Photo: Graham Harsant

Stories of Saturday

TO ALL of you who are/have been affected by the spate of bushfires around the country, my thoughts are with you all.


Living in an area that was hit by fire in 1962, 1968 and again on Black Saturday in 2009, I know only too well of the fear and helplessness that one feels in the face of such disaster.

On Black Saturday, fires came within 2km of our home on three sides.

When you have a fire travelling at 50-60kmh and throwing embers kilometres ahead of itself, that was a little too close for comfort.

Two memories stand above everything else from that period.

One was the zombie-like expressions on everybody's faces due to lack of sleep, and the accompanying, palpable fear.

The other was the presence of the firefighters and the other services from around the state and the country who had come to save our little town.

Our gratefulness could never be adequately expressed to these brave men and women so we simply said a heartfelt thank you each time we passed them.

For Christmas we bought our Nick a week at a camp in Gippsland.

Situated north of Licola, the way in is by four-wheel-drive and flying fox.

Being 15-and-a-half and Mr Independent, he insisted on making his own way there.

He caught a bus, a train, another train and another bus before he was picked up by the four wheel drives.

If something is going to happen to anyone, you can be certain it will happen to Nick.

Sure enough, he would have to pick the week that the bushfires hit Gippsland.

By the Thursday evening the ABC was telling us that the fires would impact Licola early the following morning.

At 10.30pm I rang the camp for information regarding the children's safety.

I was told, somewhat casually that they were camped 20km north of the base and that they were trying to get them out.

Di Carroll spent most of the evening gathering information from every available source and putting it all together on the TransHelp site.

It was through Di that we heard that the kids had been successfully evacuated.

That said, we still had a sleepless night.

It wasn't until midday that we heard from Nick. "Hi," he said, brightly. "I've had a fantastic week!

"There were fires around here and they had to get us out in the middle of the night. It took four hours. It was pretty mad."

Oh, to have a kid's sense of adventure.

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