Ten years since catastrophic inferno
Toodyay ablaze at the height of the devastating December 2009 bushfire in which 38 homes were destroyed.
Toodyay Historical Society
THOSE of us who lived in Toodyay at the time are painfully aware 29 December 2019 marks 10 years since Toodyay experienced a catastrophic bushfire.
According to a report on the recovery process, prepared as a power-point presentation to Fire Emergency Services Association by the local recovery coordinator in 2010, 38 homes were destroyed, more than 70 were severely damaged and another 100 homes suffered some damage.
Sheds and other structures were also lost or affected by the fire that burnt nearly 3000ha of land.
There was massive media coverage, not just across Australia but also overseas and as a result Toodyay was overwhelmed with goodwill.Read more
Donations flowed in and many fundraisers were organised.
Invaluable help was provided by two women who came over from Flowerdale and Murrindindi in Victoria.
They had been involved with the recovery process following the horrendous Black Saturday fires that took place in February 2009.
They came as a gesture of thanks because of the assistance given by Toodyay volunteer firefighters and they knew what had worked with their survivors.
The regular survivors’ dinners held in the Memorial Hall was an initiative that was much appreciated.
With Lotterywest funding, a project was undertaken by one of our members to collect examples of media coverage, print and television footage, photographs, oral histories, official reports and documents.
An accompanying project report reflects upon the lessons that were learnt and how the ‘one-stop-shop’ support system that evolved could be a blueprint for other communities affected by bushfire.
It wasn’t long before there were other fires; Roleystone-Kelmscott (February 2011), Margaret River (November 2011), Parkerville, Stoneville and Mt Helena (January 2014), and Yarloop (January 2016).
Copies of the collected materials are lodged with our society and the shire’s museum, and the project report can be read on our website.
Given the amount of available material about the bushfire, our society gave much thought about how to mark this significant event in Toodyay’s history, or if indeed we wanted to.
Ten years may seem a long time ago, but with media coverage of catastrophic bushfires raging across the eastern states, we feel there is no respite.
So, the decision was made not to look back to 2009, but rather the present.
We urge everyone to be prepared, heed advice, and give heartfelt thanks to our volunteer firefighters and all the others we rely on to make Toodyay a safe place to live.
To conclude on a festive note, we all enjoyed our end-of-year sundowner at Donegan’s Cottage and look forward to decorating the front room of Drummond House (next to the bank) for the Christmas Street Party on Friday December 6 from 6 to 9.30pm.
Members are invited to come along to enjoy the fun and help with selling our Christmas hamper raffle tickets.
We thank The Toodyay Herald for publishing our monthly columns and wish all the staff a happy and well-deserved rest over the festive season.
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; Robyn Taylor, email@example.com, phone 9574 2578, or Beth Frayne, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 9574 5971. Donegan’s Cottage Research Centre in the showgrounds is open on Thursdays from 1-3pm. Postal address: PO Box 32 Toodyay. Website: toodyayhistoricalsociety.org.au/. Books and displays at Drummond House, which is open on Saturdays 10am to noon.