"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.


Bushfire Widows

Peter McHugh (bio)

I have often joked over the years that there are three sorts of firefighters in rural Victoria;

  • Firstly, there are the large numbers of CFA volunteers in their bright yellow overalls and shiny red trucks fitted with flashing lights and sirens who operate in small country towns, on private and cleared farmland or around houses scattered along the more accessible and visible interface with the public forest. The men and women that turn out so rapidly and so selflessly with these tanker crews and strike teams do a sensational job and their local communities and the media are quite rightly very proud of them. I certainly am.

Walking to Work

M E W Stump (bio)

"Mark gave me a copy of the text in March 2016, together with some photographs and newspaper cuttings. The descriptions of dry firefighting with hand tools are brief and record what was achieved year by year over and over by experienced firefighters, day and night, in public forests, at modest cost, more than half a century ago."
Alan Eddy, 30 April 2016

Mark Stump was an Assistant Forester at Heyield from December 1954 to May 1957

"The philosophy attaching to the combatting of remote fires at that time, was that the suppression crew should be self-sufficient for a period of three days. This principle assumed that a three-day period would provide sufficient time in which to access, extinguish and withdraw from a small fire without the necessity of additional support. For a large remote fire, which could not be dealt with in an all up time frame of three days, the self-sufficiency period provided time for District Administrative Staff to organize the despatch of support equipment/supplies, to be carried to the fire site by pack horse."

Gelignite Can Be Very Useful Stuff

Bernie Evans (bio)

This article is based upon a conversation between Bernie and Richard Rawson in August 2018

On his first visit to the FCV District Office at Swifts Creek in early 1960, while he was assessing in the area of Davies Plain, Bernie was to find the District Forester, Moray Douglas, sitting in his office with feet on a footstool comprising a number of boxes of gelignite. Now, even in those days that seemed a little unusual. Powder magazines were a common feature of FCV locations, but they were not usually located in the main office.

Victorian Fire Crew “Lost” in NSW

- build freeway and then backburn to keep warm

This article is based upon a conversation between Bernie Evans and Richard Rawson in August 2018

In about 1972, with many FCV personnel already committed to a big fire at Mt Elizabeth, near Buchan, a very large fire in the Kosciusko National Park “was gradually burning its way south between the Snowy and the Ingeegoodbee Rivers” heading towards the Victorian border and, typical of the time, the NSW people were interested in their own side, not ours. Well, the truth is they probably were not really worried about the fire at all, but we were interested, because if nothing happened we would have a huge unwanted blaze inside our patch.

MSC Experiences

Kester Baines (bio)

I worked on the Connors crew for four consecutive summers, from Dec 1968 – Feb 1969, then Jan-Feb 1970, ‘71 and ‘72, being a leading hand on the ‘71 crew and senior leading hand in ’72.

Our first fire was in the Buxton-Taggerty area, which started on the same day as the bad Lara fires (8 Jan 1969). We worked in the Black Range, Royston Range and Blue Range and were there for five days. All up we worked on 13 fires over the four summers, mostly lightning strikes in the high country, but one near Mt Roundback on Wilsons Prom was also quite large. But our first was the worst – it’s the only time I’ve been in a fire that was crowning at times. Scary!