Tasmania's journal of discovery

Letter from Scamander

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Bob and Virginia Dickason, readers and friends who run a small store and the post office in the fire-ravaged community at Scamander finally managed to get online last night:

We’re fine. The power and the mobile phone and radio and TV relay was up on a hill where the fire started and has been off since Monday, about 5pm, until this afternoon so life has been somewhat different, and, as one of the locals said “We’ll all smell the same!”

Apparently there were more than 100 power poles burnt, so the Hydro did an incredible job to get things on again in such a short time.

On Tuesday we managed to get a generator of sufficient capacity to run the freezers and dairy fridge but the ice creams were too far gone so every kid’s dream came true - our blackboards said, in big letters “Free Ice Cream!”

The flames came to within about 300-400 metres from us and we had the car ready with a few things in it in case we had to go.

From the front page of the Examiner. Our shop is about 300m behind the hotel — the white building on the right. The flame are very very close to us at this time.

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The pilot with the water bomb was incredible — flitting back and forth from the river with about a cubic metre of water slung beneath — very, very low into zero visibility smoke, and then, with instructions from the ground, drop the water, and back to the river. Kept it up for a couple of hours.

From our front door. We were a bit of a meeting place and the end of the road — the Emergency Service were not letting anyone past and had evacuated everyone beyond us.

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Sunset. Our place is to the left of the shot. The big hotel is on the right.

Things are still far from good. The fire has, as of tonight, Wednesday, a front of 70 kms and the wind is all over the place.

There is still a great deal of bush near the town with huge amounts of fuel which hasn’t burnt. There are a few other communities nearby which are threatened tonight.

We feel very much a part of this small town and there are a few people, burnt out, with absolutely nothing: hippies from the hills with a shack amid the glorious undergrowth, a marvellous restaurant whose new owner was struggling to pay the bills and a week past her premium date … she got the dog, but not the cat, or her artwork, or guitar, etc.

So many stories. So many heroes.

Our ‘firies’ and the SES are incredible. We went for a drive last night and what had been a highway between trees and shrubs is now a blackened blasted waste littered with lengths of still burning telegraph poles and smoking trees.

And here and there, some set way back from the road, is house after house, still standing. As far as we know, about seven houses near us are gone, and maybe more.

So much to tell, but we are well and very glad to be so

love, Virginia and Bob

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