Separated in fires

The O’Connor family of Garfield North (from left): Tom, Rachelle, Natalie and Thomas are back together after a traumatic separation during the Bunyip fire.

The O’Connor family of Garfield North (from left): Tom, Rachelle, Natalie and Thomas are back together after a traumatic separation during the Bunyip fire.

In wintry conditions Thomas O’Connor is fencing for a neighbour in Garfield North. The stark contrast with the weather of four weeks ago could not be greater.

It is just seven degrees, blowing a gale and pouring rain and Thomas is dressed in shorts showing the hardiness he has which came to the fore as he battled to save his family’s home in the Bunyip Complex Fire.

The situation was made so much worse for him with his parents in Perth, Western Australia and his sister Rachelle prevented from returning to assist him after she moved some horses.

It is the third time the family farm has been threatened by fire; Ash Wednesday in 1983, Black Saturday 10 years ago and now the Complex Fire, as it has become known.

Wind changes kept the first two fires away, but this time it was not to be the case.  Much of their 200-acre farm was burnt, they lost a hay shed with 320 round bales and many kilometres of fencing.


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