Tuesday 10 February 2009

Australian Fires

This was something that I felt I had to share with you.
Eleven years ago I was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, to travel the world for 8 weeks studying a particular topic. Mine was Dairy Cows. Usually about 20 scholarships are awarded annually in the UK. Similar schemes operate in Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
Nuffield is very much a family and scholars keep in touch, have study tours and conferences to pass on the latest findings and best practise as found by each other.
There are a large number of scholars in Victoria, Australia, and following enquiries we found they were all well and out of harms way.
The fires have left hundreds of people homeless, affecting an area of more than 3,000 square kilometres. Entire towns were wiped off the map within about 24 hours.

This was received from Paul Mumford. Paul is a 2009 Scholar, about to embark on his Scholarship in two weeks time. His response below gives you a sense of the pressure he and his family are under.

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul & Lisa Mumford
To: Paul Ford ; Jim Geltch
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 7:52 PM
Subject: Won Wron Fires

Just a note between a shower, returning to the shed to fix the vat and a bed.

The Fires in our part of the world are still continuing to taunt us since Saturday, which was our greatest threat. We had a 2 hour window to collect the whole 650 female cows on the farm and place them onto the only green vegetation we had which was the Sorghum crops. (Boy were the girls happy about that!)

Our fire plans had been implemented with my 3 children staying at home with Lisa to defend our home. Looking at it now it all payed off but at the time was one of the most difficult things to do. The children were extremely distressed to start but as they understood there roles they had to play in saving themselves as well as saving the farms/business they were much more calmer and focus about the event. The house was full of 2 cats from the neighbours 3 farm dogs a friend from down the road and her 2 dogs. So

Myself and Aaron (our co – worker) protecting the Assets being the rotary, shedding and animals. All fire breaks, pumps, tractors and spray units were at our finger tips which seems like an overload just for the 2 of us to operate. From the rotary we have a direct view down the valley where the fire was coming from which was a sight that will remain with us all for the rest of our lives I think. We were very lucky with only small sport fires landing on our farm which we were able to extinguish quickly, and were falling some 10km ahead of the fire front at the time, some embers were about 80cm long and the fires were creating their own black rain. So it all seemed so surreal!

As it stands tonight we have 5 fires surrounding us. There is no single one which is an immediate threat but, all could be. The largest is to the east running along the farms flanks some 5 km away and heading north, with all reports saying it will head in that direction in the short term.

Tomorrow is another day of pretty well the same! Fire vigil. The kids are home from school for the week, Lisa is on sandwich duty for the CFA crews and the cows are on the crop.

I personally want to thank you for your offers of support to us, which we will accept if the need arises and hope that we can return the offer to show our appreciation. It really meant a lot to myself and Lisa, so thank you both very much.

I must sign off now and again, thank you!


Paul Mumford

'Gelbeado Park'

100 Greig's Creek Road

Won Wron Victoria 3971


email : mumfordpl@bigpond.com

Nuffield Scholar

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