Rebuild from ruins: fire gives rise to community spirit - 17 July 2015

After a bushfire wiped out 99 per cent of their property near Euroa in Victoria, the Kelly family faced replacing every fence, as well as sheds and other infrastructure.
 
Brian and Mary Kelly are the fourth generation to live on Glenmore, in the Creighton’s Creek district, and have seen their fair share of natural disasters, including two major bushfires.
 
“The conditions at the end of last year were a lot like Black Saturday; hot and very windy. We couldn’t keep up with the front of the fire,” Mr Kelly said.

“The fire wiped out the new hay shed with 700 bales of hay as well as silage that was outside the shed. Thankfully Mary was around to save the house; otherwise we would have lost that too.
 
“We’re lucky that we have another block not too far away, so we were able to re-locate some of our Angus cattle, as there was no ground cover left here.”
 
The Kelly family run about 600 Angus breeders in a self-replacing herd, based on Rennylea blood lines.  
 
The daunting task of re-fencing 18 kilometres of boundary fence faced the pair, but with the help of volunteers from the community and further afield, the bulk of the work has been done, with only some internal fencing still to be completed.
 
“We had nothing to lose with trying new materials out and different set ups, and Landcare in conjunction with Waratah held a workshop on the property to show us and the neighbours some of the different options for fencing material available these days.
 
“I’m old fashioned and I was against the new technology in the beginning, but seeing it first hand was just amazing, so we went with Waratah products.
 
“One day a working crew of about 20 people turned up with crowbars, sledgehammers, shovels - everything you could imagine you need to put up a fence. But with this Waratah system you don’t need any of that stuff.
 
“It’s so easy to erect, and the system is so simple, we had city accountants who had never seen a fence putting it up and loving it.”
 
The Kellys used a combination of Jio® Star® and Jio MaxY® posts with Stocksafe-T®  8/90/30 wire for the boundary fence, with Tyeasy® Longlife® wire.
 
Mr Kelly says the group averaged about 200m every hour during that particular working bee, using a Thumpa®pneumatic post driver, which he said is fast in nearly all terrain.
 
“I was a tough old bloke and found it really hard to accept people’s generosity. People turning up with loads of hay, taking our cattle on agistment, and people coming from far and wide to help us put up the fence. You just can’t put a monetary value on that,” Mr Kelly said.
 
“Despite the damage, there has been a lot of good that has come out of the fire. There are some really generous people out there that have helped us beyond what we could have ever asked for. It’s taught us a lot.”