Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tractors and help

Last Saturday was the end of week four and these are the progress figures. As you can see we still have a long way to go. So dear reader, if you were considering doing a bit of volunteering, now would be a good time to act. We have just 10 going out tomorrow (Friday).

117 - Volunteers
39 - Properties
635 - FTE days (FTE - Full-Time Equivalent)
90.4km - cleared
37.7km - fences rebuilt

Needed a tractor to help on the fence line and as it happened the farmer had plenty. No need to change the implements he would just start another up. Besides the old KL Bulldog, he had plenty of others that worked just fine, and some that didn't.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Getting Going Again

Stories come out about the despair and depression people suffer after these events. At one of our farmers nights, an elderly farmer attended after much encouragement and told the story of how he was going to simply give up. Sell what remains of the herd and get out were his thoughts as he sat in the house for days not willing or wanting to do anything, even go outside.

Another farming family lost near everything, without even a pair of fencing pliers on hand to fix the burnt fences and retain the animals that survived.

Then BlazeAid volunteers turn up and help these guys get back into it, they bring enthusiastic physical numbers as well as the tools and some much-needed materials. The general public and businesses donate all sorts of stuff that is passed on to the farmers, from fencing materials to dog food.

Working a fence, walking new wire past the destruction, seeing the child's bicycle, pause to clear one's vision.

Monday, March 20, 2017

BA Cassilis Progress

Stats for the end of week three.

102 - Volunteers to date

20~25 - Volunteers going out each day

39 - Total properties visited

77km - Cleared

12.5km - New Fences

Dalkeith Woolshed

One of the advantages of visiting farms when doing BA fencing is the chance to get off the road and see things not usually available to the general public. Besides Tongy Station we had the opportunity to look through the Dalkeith woolshed. A magnificent old building complete with steam traction engine. The drive belts, pulleys, gears, and bearings are strung through the rafters and it is evident how they drove the shearing equipment and lighting. It's a fully functioning six stand shed, now converted to 240v, but that appears to be the only consideration to the modern age.

The Dalkeith and Tongy properties have interesting histories.

Dalkeith Woolshed

Looking to the rear of the shearing stands.

The power plant.

Friday, March 17, 2017


We've had a couple of rest days now, always a good opportunity to get out and about. Cassilis has only a pub and post office for everything else the locals need to go out-of-town. Merriwa at 45km is the closest town with a supermarket, butcher, fuel etc. and the all important dump point. Not a big place but it has the essentials.

Mudgee, 85km away, on the other hand, has everything including choice. It's a busy commercial centre with all the vehicle traffic to prove it. Doing what's needed and heading 'home' is the order of the day, IMO.

Uarbry is/was the nearest town to Cassilis, about 20km away. Is was a small village of 10 houses, a church, and a community hall. Now it's just two houses. 
Nearby is Tongy Station one of the larger properties in the area and had a heritage-listed homestead, not anymore.

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The local church.

49 Tungay St Uarbry

The Tongy Station Homestead

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BlazeAid Cassilis - Farmer's night

Saturday night. The end of week two. Just a quick note with some progress stats.

74 - Volunteers total to date.

15~20 - going out at the moment

35 - properties visited

51 - km fences cleared

3.7 - km of new fence erected

62 farmers, family, and volunteers sat down to a meal prepared by our kitchen slaves (wives of the fencing teams) who put on a fantastic meal. A good time was had by all.

Saturday Night.

Friday, March 10, 2017

BlazeAid Cassilis - week 2

Doing it with a tractor is the way to go, for mesh fences anyway. Use a chain on the bucket to pull up the steel posts, lay the intact fence flat on the ground then push the mesh and wire into a bundle and scrunch it up with the bucket. Two blokes with a tractor, 650m by lunch time.

Later in the week started installing new fences at a large property on the Coolar Rd. Able to make really good time using Clipex Fencing: the plain wire, mesh, and barb just clicks into the star picket, nice.

Push it up into a bundle. 

Then crunch it up.

Was a machinery shed once?

Friday, March 3, 2017

BlazeAid - Cassilis

Cassilis (Cass-liss according to the locals).

The St Ivan Fires.

Volunteer numbers are growing at a steady rate. A second camp has been set up at Dunedoo servicing the farmers on the west side of the fire ground. But Cassilis is actually closer less than 10km to the fence work.

Day one, Monday 27th saw two teams of 2 sent into the field. By Friday things were looking better, more volunteers were heading our way. It is estimated that about 5700km of burnt fences have to be replaced. Four months work for the two camps is the suggestion. That seems a very conservative estimate considering it took 1 camp 3 months to replace 180km at Barnawartha last year.

Facilities here at Cassilis are really good. The Cassilis Bowling Club have given us exclusive use of their function room and kitchen and the staffed bar opens at five pm seven days a week. A friendly club with generous members. The all important showers are spectacular and as is usual, at these camps, the power is somewhat limited.

One of the farms I worked this week has 30km of boundary and another 30km of internal fences to be replaced. So expecting to see a lot more of the Golden Highway, and up close. Trucks and cars toot and wave their support as they speed on past, nice. The weather is warm, usually with a breeze, but best of all the nights are cool and ideal for sleeping after a hard day on the fence line.

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The fire ground.

There are unpleasant smells about as well.

Open paddocks (in the background) and generally undulating terrain. 

But some shitty bits as well.