District 9790 Bushfire Recovery Newsletter April6, 2020  


Report on the first three months of recovery activity


As I write this newsletter, we are all experiencing the severe restrictions imposed on us during this COVID-19 pandemic as governments attempt to curtail the spread of the virus.  I hope all readers are safe and coping with the self-isolation rules.


It is three months since devastating bushfires tore through more than 300,000 hectares in the Upper Murray region of North-Eastern Victoria.  Located in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, this scenic region is one of rolling hills and deep valleys, farms and wide pastures.  Over 18,000 head of stock were lost in the fires and many more were sent to market as thousands of kilometeres of fencing were destroyed and containment of stock was impossible.  


Frightening fires raged around the Towong Shire towns of Walwa and Corryong - both were saved. Smaller towns including Cudgewa, Berringama, Jingellic, Tooma, Towong and Colac Colac and the valley communities of Nariel, Biggara and Thowgla suffered extensive damage.  


Many communities were isolated for weeks as access was severely limited; hence, help was slow to arrive.  The Salvation Army recently received another 258 registrations for help from families in need, highlighting the time it has taken for some to reach out for assistance while dealing with shock and devastation.  More than fifty primary residences and around 150 other buildings have been destroyed. Many more were damaged by the thick smoke that accompanied the flames and gale force winds.  





Fencing projects were an early priority to help contain stock.Teams at Corryong, organised by the Rotary Club of Belvoir Wodonga, provided 600 volunteers and approximately 1,500 hours of work over a five-week period. 130 farmers were assisted.


The Uniting Church Fencing Team at Cudgewa with the support of 60 volunteers, has completed 2,000 hours of volunteer work, erecting 35 kilometres of fencing while assisting 30 farmers.  More work is to be done.


BlazeAid Corryong teams and 398 volunteers, led by coordinator Bill Gerritsen (Rotary Club of Appin Park) have cleared more than 140 kilometres of burnt fencing and completed 78.5 kilometres of new fencing. 193 farmers have registered for assistance.

BlazeAid also had fencing camps at Tooma and Jingellic and more work is to be done there also.  More than 100 farmers have registered for assistance.


Many Rotarians from clubs throughout the district have worked with the fencing teams and reported that it was an amazing and worthwhile experience.  Currently fencing work has ceased during this period of self-isolation. 




Truckloads of hay, organised by district 9790 rotary clubs,have regularly made their way to needy farmers in the Upper Murray, as previously mentioned in Bushfire Recovery Updates. 


A recent delivery of 22 pallets of dairy pellet feed has been made to Corryong suppliers for distribution to needy farmers. Forty five farmers have each received 15 bags of pellets, with more to follow to others in need.


Geoff Dinning has been co-ordinating the fodder and pellet feed projects.





All students attending the Corryong Catholic and P-12 Government School (340) were provided with a Back to School Pack of books and stationary, while 38 year seven students also received a computer to start the school year. This project, at a cost of $59,150 has been completed, thanks to donations from rotary clubs and individuals.





With the loss of homes and other buildings there has been an urgent need for shipping containers. The Victorian Transport Authority originally promised to make containers available, but unfortunately that offer did not materialise.  An adjoining rotary district 9800 - generously offered to provide 15 containers (at a cost to them - D9800 - of $3,500 - $4,000 per container) for distribution in our district at a cost to our district of only $500 for each container - a wonderful contribution to our Bushfire Recovery.  


To date seven containers have arrived in Corryong for distribution and more will follow.  Those in need of containers have been identified and assistance will be given to position them on properties.





The Rotary Clubs of Myrtleford, Mt Beauty and Bright are working on a project to provide air purifiers in the Myrtleford, Bright and Mt Beauty Hospitals. Details of this project were provided in the last Bushfire Recovery Update.  Mark Lucey, president of the Rotary Club of Mount Beauty, is co-ordinating this program.



Members from the Rotary Club of Corryong assisted by many D9790 clubs, have been working tirelessly over the three months with their communities, assisting in the clean-up process. Their catering team has provided services at many community activities such as the recent All Stars football match at Cudgewa and the Family Day at Khancoban Dam.  They have provided amazing support for their communities and in turn have been supported by Rotarians from many clubs throughout the district.



With the assistance of an Appin Park Rotarian, students at FCJ College Benalla have been matched with students from the P-12 College Corryong to create student partnerships.


A Facebook request from students in Numurkah for books resulted in a wonderful collection of both children and adult books.  They were delivered to Corryong and distributed to the pre-school, schools and nursing home as well as the primary school in Walwa.



The Rotary Club of Belvoir Wodonga organised health and wellbeing evenings with Dennis Hoiberg, at Corryong and Tintaldra.  Seventy five people attended. 



I wish all Rotarians and friends good health during these extremely difficult times as we try different ways to connect and support one another.




PDG Bernie Bott, Chairman

District 9790 Bushfire Recovery Committee