Somerset Times

Rebuilding Fences. Rebuilding Lives.

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 3, Term Four, 2019

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In late September 2019, many areas of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland bushland were devastated with raging fires. One of these areas is the town of Tenterfield known as ‘The Birthplace of our Nation’.

It is about a four-hour drive from the Gold Coast. On the weekend beginning 19 October, 10 students travelled to Tenterfield to volunteer with a charity known as BlazeAid. BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters to help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.

Upon our Saturday evening arrival in Tenterfield, we headed out to Steinbrook Hall for a barbeque with many of the property owners whom we would come to know over the next couple days. This wholesome night filled with song, laughs and first meetings gave all of us a small insight into this tight-knit community that give anything to each other to ensure they bounce back after tragedies like bushfires.

On Sunday morning, we all got up bright and early and headed out to Monica’s farm where she runs cattle, sheep and working kelpies. We were lucky enough to be taught all the basics of fence building from Garry and Rod, two volunteers who had been traveling with BlazeAid for a couple months. After clearing almost 800m of burnt and depleted fencing, we learnt how-to put-up stays, strainers and barbed wire boundaries which covered nearly 400m. By the end of a long day, some of us wanted to improve our Frisbee skills and so needed to improvise while on the farm with many cows. We’ll let you work that one out. Not only did this experience with BlazeAid allow us to get outdoors and have a laugh with our peers, we were able to build what we hope will be long-lasting relationships with Monica and her family who expressed their gratitude to us extensively.

On top of this, we had the opportunity to climb The Pyramid in Girraween National Park, visit and support an apple orchard, hold and feed lambs and cattle, and nurse the cutest three-week-old kelpies you have ever seen. However, this trip and the activities that we took part in did not make us feel privileged or heroic, instead it made us feel so lucky to have been able to meet the wonderful people of Tenterfield and Stanthorpe, and to witness firsthand a community standing strong in the aftermath of a natural disaster. We can all help by considering an overnight trip out to this beautiful part of the world in the next 12 months.

On behalf of all the students that attended this trip, we would like to say a massive thank you to Mr and Mrs Walker for giving us the opportunity to part take in such a rewarding experience that will stick with and inspire us for the rest of our lives. Thank you!

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