Our Experience of the Bushfires in the Lockyer Valley October 7, 2019

We had seen the smoke from the fire burning in the Glen Rock State Forest for a few weeks and everyday it was a question as to whether it was going to come our way.

As it crept closer and closer to our ridge boundary, we formulated our fire plans and tried to prepare – but it is difficult to prepare for something you’ve never experienced before. You can’t just leave your car packed with your essentials like your computer on an extended basis. On the day before it came Dominic started moving trailers and equipment into an open paddock that was least likely to burn but blew a water pump on his tow vehicle so had to stop.

The next morning, October the 7th we were told the fire was going to come our way and be prepared for ember attack, so we filled a number of bottles with water and waited. Our daughter went to work and our son went into Brisbane to see friends.

At about 10am that morning we started filling one 30000 litre water tank -which was still leaking a bit – so we would have water when the fire destroyed our 2km water pipeline from our bore to the house. We also moved a 5000 litre plastic tank closer to the house in an attempt to provide water for firefighting. At about 2pm we stopped filling the tank thinking we might need the water elsewhere.

Dominic had set up his truck, a Unimog, with 2000 litres on board and a fire hose and pump, and also filled another 1000 litre container at the sheds below the house.

the Unimog – EPFE – essential piece farm equipment
the Unimog – EPFE – essential piece farm equipment


We put everything off the decks into the house and shut all the windows.

At around 11am we heard from our neighbour, 2 kms east of us, that his paddocks were on fire from embers, the fire had jumped us and started up on his place.

Around 2pm a couple of men came around in a vehicle and told us we had to evacuate – we later found out they were police.

Exhausted and not really knowing what else to do we felt rather frazzled and prayed  ”God  we have done all we can the rest is up to you.”

At about 3.30 I took our last remaining vehicle an unregistered 2 door Suzuki with the dog, cat, computer, change of clothes for myself and the kids, photos and anything else I could think of and set off for my parents’ house in Laidley. Unbeknownst to us the car had a flat tyre and an overheating problem. I only made it half way to mum and dads before the car overheated. By this time my daughter had finished work and was able to come and pick us all up and get us there.

Meanwhile Dominic was staying to fight the fire if practical – when it arrived.

That afternoon two neighbours came by and recommended strongly that he mount some sprinklers on the roof of the house. After they helped him install the sprinklers he ran them off the tanks for a number of hours wetting the house and carport.

At 5pm we lost main water as the fire had burnt out our water pipe and melted our supply tank.

At 6pm the fire came with winds of up to 90km/hr.  Dominic was at the house and saw the fire front on the ridge behind the house. He was on the phone to me at the time and as we spoke the fire came towards him at high speed. As he left he said we had lost everything. I didn’t hear from him for 1.5hrs but God gave me peace and I wasn’t overly worried for his safety, I knew he would ring when he had a chance. When he rang he said he was able to save the shed and solar panels and the house was still standing.

What had happened was this – when Dominic saw the fire front move so quickly he figured he had to get out of there. He hopped in the truck with the firefighting gear on it and started down the drive to get out. When he got to the gate he turned around as he wasn’t going to leave till he had used all the water he had and went back. He found a safe place with an exit and watched the fire front move past. He thought he saw the fire race under and through the verandas of the house and was sure that was gone.

After the front had passed, he saw that the shed was on fire and figured that he could deal with that so for 1.5hrs he worked alone around the sheds putting out the fires as they kept reigniting and dealing with a burning 4WD that kept igniting the corner of the shed.  He was focused on the shed and solar panels as in his mind the house was gone but if he saved the infrastructure it would be easier to start again.

After what seemed like forever, he figured that he had some time to check on the house. Our house and sheds are about 130mts apart on the side of a hill and the dark and smoke had been so dense he hadn’t seen it yet.  When he came up hill to check the house, he found it in perfect condition. There was only a couple of small fires around some stumps and a drop sheet over some wood on the deck was burning. There was scorched ground right up to the edge of the house. Dominic only focused on extinguishing fires that were putting property in imminent danger, as he was very conscious of the fact that when the water ran out it was over.

Dominic rang me then and let me know that the house was still there but he had to work all night to keep putting the embers out as with the wind at the strength it was every time it blew across the land the embers would come to life again. Just before midnight two vehicles arrived out of the gloom, neighbours ready to help. One came with backpack spray backs to put out spot fires and brought some food, while the other over two trips used 2000 litres of water on some wood that just wasn’t going out – both of them lifted his spirits immensely.

By the time it was 5am I came out to help him as Dominic had not slept and every 15mins he had walked around the house and the sheds to check for fire. The kids came later after my son came back from Brisbane where he stayed overnight with a friend.

We spent the next 24 – 48 hours continually monitoring the fires and putting out smouldering logs. For weeks to come we would hear trees falling as they burned slowly through the trunk and then fell. Every plume of smoke needed to be checked out even though almost every acre of our 2400 acres was black and burnt.

Over the whole night Dominic had only used 2000 litres of water, he hadn’t run out and had to refill from his spare 1000ltr container.

When we checked our house tank the next day it was still 2/3 full, as if no water had been used.  There is no way that the bore had filled the tank that much in the few hours we had being filling it – it had run four commercial sprinklers for hours.

Every one of our animals survived, we had 2 geese and 7 goslings who sheltered under the house and survived, when Dominic left, he had let the chickens and cows out and the next day we had 8 of 10 chickens and the 2 cows were fine. The next night we had 9 chickens and the next night 10 again.

He was able to save my vegetable garden and there was a patch of green in front of the house, that I had being watering for the geese, that was untouched.

This was the worst fire to hit our area for at least the last 100 years and it moved with a speed that was unprecedented and unexpected, as the winds got up to 90 km/hr at times. We believe that we experienced a miracle.  We believe that Dominic was not alone when he was fighting the fires after the front had passed through. We believe that God was there and saved our house and everything we had worked for.  We lost a lot of machinery and spare parts, cars and trailers valued at around $100K but everything else – the house, sheds, solar system, garden, animals and most of all our lives were saved. If everything had being lost we probably would have sold up and started somewhere else, but as it didn’t burn we believe we are here by Gods purpose.

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