Poet and artist Belinda Broughton shares a story from her recovery experience following the Cudlee Creek fire, which swept through the Adelaide Hills in South Australia on Friday 20 December 2019. Belinda used the charcoal from her burnt property to create a beautiful and poignant mural that resonated deeply with the community. This video was made in partnership with the students of Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen and Media) at Flinders University.
An engineer, Tom Hampton always had a passion for farming attending Urrbrae Agricultural High School for his secondary studies.
Finally six years ago he made the career switch to agriculture establishing his premium Adelaide Hills based beef business – Adelaide Hill Pasturefed Beef - at Harrogate. Over time the enterprise has expanded to include beekeeping and honey production, establishing his second farming enterprise – Adelaide Hills Premium Honey.
While Tom’s engineering background had been an asset with his fire preparation work his home and shedding surviving the fire, the nature of the Cudlee Creek fire was such that his main property at Harrogate and two smaller agistment properties at Brukunga were all impacted (his agistment property at Charleston narrowly escaping damage). He lost over 3km of fencing, standing feed in paddocks, hay rolls, shade trees and shelter belts; along with the destruction of all his beehives and what was to be his first saleable quantity of honey.
“We had an established plan before the fire,” he said. “On the day itself we were initially at home, monitoring the situation and doing what last minute preparations we felt were needed. Then around lunchtime we decided to evacuate and while we were confident the house would survive, in the end we couldn’t get back to the property until the next day. It was a very sobering and confronting experience returning, not knowing if our house was safe, and seeing the extent of the devastation along with the knowledge that the fire was still burning.”
Since the fires he has spent a lot of time not only stabilising his property but also assisting neighbours with dousing flare ups, removing fallen trees and other general recovery work.
“The last eight months has been basically a blur,” he said. “I think I have actually been busier with the recovery process than I was when originally setting up the farm and business.”
“The first month or so was very adrenalin-fuelled, particularly with flare ups still needing to be put out, before we were able to finally look at the broader recovery and what assistance was available to us. However everything is now finally well and truly starting to come together.”
Tom is one of the first applicants to benefit from the recent changes to the eligibility for the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants, jointly announced by the State and Federal Governments last month, using the funding principally for fence replacement.
“I was very relieved when the criteria was changed, as it has enabled smaller producers like us who are a large part of the farming profile up here in the hills, to seek that much needed assistance,” he said.
“Up until very recently I have undertaken confinement feeding with the cattle but now knowing they are more secure as new replacement fencing is installed is providing great peace of mind.
“I’ve also now got new hives, re-establishing my apiary, and hoping to resume my honey production this spring. There is a lot to now look forward to.”
For someone having now experienced fire, drought and market uncertainty during his brief farming career his lifelong passion for agriculture is not only undimmed but in fact strengthened.
“Knowing what we all have been through I have an even stronger love for my work and my animals,” he said. “I entered agriculture knowing there would be challenges and with that in mind I made a decision that you just dust yourself off and make the most of it.”
Kangaroo Island farmers Ben and Sabrina Davis are working to their strengths to manage their recovery after fire swept through their property in January 2020.
Apple and Cherry grower Kym Green discusses the grants that have been instrumental to his recovery and his partnership with research scientists at PIRSA’s research arm, SARDI, which is helping them to better understand how fruit trees recover after fires. This video was made in partnership with the students of Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen and Media) at Flinders University.
Caravan park owner Fiona Jago discusses a more fire-resistant rebuild, lessons learned, and the enduring beauty of the Island after the fire swept through her property in the summer of 2019-20.
Winemaker Geoff Weaver discusses the restoration of his vineyard following the Cudlee Creek fire, his passion for painting and the research project that is helping him to measure and track the recovery of his vines. This video was made in partnership with the students of Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen and Media) at Flinders University.
Kangaroo Island resident Jonny Gloyne discusses his plans to rebuild his bed and breakfast as well as his wood turning studio, and his hopes for the region after the fire swept through his property in the summer of 2019-20.
Lobethal resident Nell Ward reflects on aspects of her recovery journey and looks forward to creating some new memories in a more energy efficient and bushfire-compliant home. This video was made in partnership with the students of Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen and Media) at Flinders University.
Kangaroo Island beekeeper Grantley Johnson discusses the impact of losing nearly all his hives in the fires of summer 2019-20, and the assistance he’s received through recovery grants and the support of other South Australian beekeepers that’s helping him look forward to getting his business back on track.
Jack Young from Bike About Tours discusses how his business has changed since the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island fires, the help he’s received through the Lobethal Recovery Cenre, and the new direction he’s heading in.
Kangaroo Island farmer Tim Buck reflects on the value of having a recovery plan after losing his family’s farm in the fires of summer 2019-20, and the help he’s had to be able to follow that plan.