In the morning we heard over the AM radio that the roads to our property were still closed to all non-emergency traffic. We were due to check out of the motel in the morning, and we were glad to leave. As I mentioned previously, the staff were nice and friendly, yet the rooms appeared that they had not been decorated since the 1970s. While we were packing to check out we made the decision that if the house was still in danger that evening we would make a booking at Wrest Point again. At least the rooms were nicer and they had a pool for the kids. This decision did a lot to improve our moral which had really taken a hit since we checked into the Lindisfarne Motor Inn. Both Kitty and I, at different times, had felt defeated and felt the need to give up. When this happened to me, Kitty helped to cheer me up and brought me out of my funk. I did the same for Kitty when she felt depressed, pointing out things such as should the house go we are insured, that the kids and dogs are safe, and that at least we are together. As we departed the motel we heard on the radio that there would be a meeting at our town before lunch, for all local residents, to learn of the details of the fire and other issues around it. We drove up the mountain to attend the meeting. As I had learnt the majority of the details the day before I stayed outside and entertained the children while Kitty sat in on the meeting. When the meeting was over, Kitty came out and told me that they were opening the road to residents, so we could go home. This was welcome news… I had been worried about my livestock and I wanted to check the property.
We drove home and were shocked to see the large areas of burnt bush. Smoke was still think in the air and we were stopped several times, by Police as well as having to wait while fire fighters worked ahead. It was such a relief to pull into the driveway and see our home. I immediately grabbed some water containers and rush to my rabbit cages. In one cage I could see that two had died, and in another I could see that one had died. I removed them from the cages and examined the bodies. There were no injuries of burn marks so I assume that they died either from lack of water or the heat. I fed and watered the chickens, rabbits, geese and ducks, before doing a quick check of the property. I was relieved to find that apart from the strong smell of smoke in the house, everything was as we left it. While I was checking to property I was constantly reminded of the danger by the presence of water bombing helicopters. I counted four helicopters collecting water from a property over the road (and up the mountain a little), and another that seemed to be scouting out the terrain.
At one point in the afternoon I heard a fire truck driving on the road below my house and broadcasting on what sounded like a loudspeaker. I couldn’t make out the message apart from the words “fire” and “evacuate”. This caused me to become very nervous. I rushed down to the road to look for the truck, but it had already driven down the road. While standing on the main road I noticed my neighbour was near his fence. We approached each other and had a chat about the fire. He told me that the truck actually communicating with someone else and they were pulling the fire fighters from another area of the bush to go fight another fire front. While we chatted, 18 fire fighting 4x4s drove past on their way to the new front which was further to the south. My neighbour had stayed at his property and he told me about the prevention of the fire spreading to my land by the fire fighters, about a helicopter crash landing on a nearby paddock, as well as inviting my family and I to a BBQ in a few weeks (to which I accepted the invitation).
That night we all went to bed early, looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again. We learned a lot about our level of preparedness and some changes which we would have to make to be better prepared in the future. We also learned that our home meant a lot more to us than we thought. We had moved into this house around 5 years ago and we had done little to improve the inside. We decided that we wanted to do some work to the house to make it more like the home in which we want to live.