THE first thing you notice as you drive into the property that was once home to the Jones family is the colour – everything is in various shades of grey. What does stand out, strikingly so, are the many trays of bird seed left out for the first residents back after the Scotsburn fires. As we drive in Janie is sifting through the rubble that was once the family home. She says she just wants it all removed now as that is all she seems to do but the search has produced some treasures like her grandmother’s engagement ring. We are shown around and wander through the debris, we all laugh at the strangest ‘finds’ the steel caps off a pair of work boots sitting side by side; Buddha sitting serenely on what was the edge of the garden, waiting; melted pots and pans, exploded tins of paint with the contents well and truly cooked; the list is endless. We walk to the dam under a sky that is dotted with life –bright coloured Rosellas, sulphur-crested cockatoos and not too far off a kookaburra is singing.
There are piles of hay strewn around for any animals that may be wandering through and the fresh droppings show wildlife is moving back.
The fresh green growth creeping up the trunks of blackened trees brings hope – life is returning. Janey’s husband, Adrian, is like an excited child moving from tree to tree, thrilled to see the trees fighting back in such a short time.
“It’s like magic,” he exclaims.
The couple is philosophical, looking to the future and the return to their home.
They are grateful that no-one in the area was hurt and full of praise for the help received straight after the disaster, and which is still continuing today. “We want to thank the emergency services, our wonderful family, friends, neighbours and community, service clubs, businesses and agencies and government department representatives for their amazing work and support,” the couple said.
“All the support has made it possible for us to stay positive and focus on rebuilding.”
Janey says at time’s the support has been overwhelming. “We couldn’t live in a better community, really,” she said.
“The support from the community has been just absolutely amazing and it just continues. We had a BlazeAid dinner the other night and they have done work on the property; there is an amazing woman in Buninyong called Pam, who needs an award. She was not associated with any group but is on top of everything that people want or need. “We are all at different stages and it will be a long term thing – some of us are trying to get out (back to property) quicker than others and others are just settling into houses elsewhere.” Gatherings such as lunches, dinners, meetings etc include the whole community, not just those affected by the fire directly, which is a great support network for all because in some way the fires have touched the whole community. “We keep the humour going, some days are harder than others,” Janey added.
“For us it’s keeping busy and looking to the future.”