KP: Having lived with the smoke for a few days & keeping up to date with ABC Local Radio, a treat in itself, we were aware that it appeared most of Tassie was on fire. Common sense had prevailed for most people & there were no fires in any of the places we had camped to date. Our second day at Black River proved to be a little more exciting than we’d ever like to experience again. It was a beautiful day and we’d been drifting between the beach and the campsite until about 3 in the afternoon, when we decided to head off in the car exploring. The hot westerly winds had been strong all day, but we didn’t ever feel there was anything to worry about. As we were packing the kids in the car to head off, a couple of boys ran from the bush yelling fire.
It really was the most sickening thing I’ve heard. Instantly we could hear the crackle of the flames as it was just behind the campsite opposite us, about 25m from where we were set up. Sean raced over with water & called for towels (Mmmm in hindsight Turkish towels while they have many great features…putting our bushfires is NOT one of them!) We realised pretty quickly this was beyond a bucket and a few towels.
My instincts kicked in pretty quickly to get the kids out. We were about 40m off the beach, through scrub, so I grabbed my kids, the Mum and a bunch of kids from the next campsite and we headed to the water while we rang 000.
Leaving Sean behind when I ran to the beach with the kids wasn’t easy, but I also know him well enough that he would do what he could, and keep himself safe. Once we were on the beach looking back at the smoke billowing, I honestly had no idea if we would have a car or camper at the end of this. At no point did I doubt that Sean would be OK & run to the beach if he knew there was no hope.
After packing up the house & all the “stuff” we chucked/gave away/donated/packed I think we are both pretty clear that it is just stuff and at the end of the day none of it really matters and it is all insured anyway if it needed to be replaced.
With help from the Dad at the campsite opposite us, Sean packed up the van in minutes, hooked it on & managed to get out of there. We realised afterwards a bunch of random stuff had been left behind although at the end of the day, it’s all pretty insignificant. Sadly, for the other family, they managed to load the gas bottles & get the car out, but lost everything else.
Going back the next day was really eerie. Our campsite was untouched, so even if we had all run to the beach, or already left to explore, the fire somehow dodged us. The other family though, you could see where their tents had been and the black outlines.
If we don’t have that much excitement again for the whole trip, I think we’ll be OK.
We spent the next 2 nights camping in Stanley. We had water on one side of us & concrete on the other. It’s amazing how reassuring that was!
SP: Fires are definitely something you don’t want to deal with when you decide to venture up some dirt road, one way in, one way out. Hearing the words ‘FIRE’ was not something I wanted on my radar or something that you can really prepare for. Everything around us was tinder and just so dry.
We tried to put the fire out but it just was way to quick to burn. Within minutes it had moved 20 meters or so and flames 5-6 foot into the air. It quickly turned into a salvage what you can or get out operation. After knowing that myself and one of the other campers closest to the fire couldn’t stop it we decided to split up and alert the cothers further in from us. Knowing that Kyles, the kids and the other family were safe on the beach we worked to save what gear we could. I have never packed up a camper so quick, it was ugly but needed to be done, pronto. The heat felt so close and knowing the winds where shifting all over the place during the day the fire could easily move to cut the road off. Thankfully we managed to get all of our stuff minus a few items. The other family opposite to us wasn’t as fortunate and lost a some gear but regardless of stuff so happy that no one was injured.
(Two teenage boys were charged with starting the fire.)