Bushwhacked: Lessons have faded with time

THOSE who fail to plan plan to fail.
Hmmm. Perhaps a bit grittier: follow the Seven Ps – Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents P#ss-Poor Performance. Yep, that’s better.

Do you have a fire plan? If you’re an urban person, I just bet you don’t. Go and ask your immediate neighbours. I bet they don’t either.

There’s an odd Bendigo attitude that fire plans are what people on farms and in the bush do. We are city people and we don’t need such nonsense.

Yet, most of those 58 homes burned down in Bendigo five years ago on Black Saturday were urban homes, not stuck out in the sticks or surrounded by dry crops.

For some time after Black Saturday, I really thought we’d all be better equipped. But now, I seriously doubt it.

Castle Bushwhacked has a fire plan. It’s reviewed every year as our household changes, kids grow up, we grow more feeble and the number of pets waxes and wanes.

Our neighbours think we’re just a little silly. Alarmist. They’re very nice people, but disarmingly honest about what they think.

have a powerful fire pump which we rig up next to the pool every summer. We have two more water tanks, down-pipe plugs. New roof iron and gutters. Tonnes of old timber and stuff have been removed.

Fire-proof document and valuables storage. Heavy clothing always in the same area, and a clear plan of where to go if we finally are forced out. The plan lives on the fridge door.

And we live almost smack bang in the centre of Bendigo. 
I reckon from our place the big fire pump could water the QEO and half of Rozzie Park. Be a bit of a bugger, though, if you then wanted a swim.
But on Black Saturday, from our house we could see and hear house after house exploding along the horizon from Long Gully to Victoria Hill. 

We later heard of an ember burning through a ute tarp… in a lane just near the Charing Cross Fountain.
Do you remember how utterly shocked we were then that such a beast could rage into the very heart of our city and devour our homes, and threaten our lives?

Why then do more of us not have fire plans? Even if it’s just a clear understanding to leave early? Why do my neighbours think I’m silly? 

I suspect that the lessons we learn from proximity to tragedy last possibly only two or three years before they start to fade from memory.

Five years is such a long time for mere humans to carry around the scorching memories and the searing realisation of our urban vulnerability. 

The threat moves from the front of brain, to the spare bedroom cupboard section and finally to the dusty mental attic where it finally disappears under a layer of dust and pigeon poop.

And maybe there’s some justification, because it’s likely urban Bendigo now is better equipped to deal with wildfire sweeping in from the forests surrounding it. The firefighters are better prepared. They have better equipment. We have better planning.

As usual, we’ll leave it up to the bloody council or the bloody gummint to “do something”, even though we won’t.

We’re often told that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

But I reckon the reason history repeats itself is that we weren’t listening the first time.

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