This is a post I've been longing to have a chance to use! Relatives sent it to me, and it's been hiding out on my computer ever since.( we can call them relatives, can we not? They are related to my Grandfather's first wife's family. Violet Varley was one of the premiere artistes of the Australian/New Zealand stage. Married to Joseph Tapley, she died tragically during childbirth in Australia in 1895)
Through the miracle of the internet, folks from her side of the family found folks from Joseph's side of the family -- we all met up on line, and voila, photos and information flowed!
Some of that included an article about fighting forest fires. George and Gloria live in Callignee, which was the site of some of the worst of the Australian Black Saturday forest fires, a series of bushfires burning across the Victoria, Australia on and around Saturday 7 February 2009 during extremely dry onditions. The fires resulted in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire-- 173 people died as a result of the fires and 414 were injured. As many as 400 individual fires were recorded on 7 February. In Callignee, where George and Gloria live, 12 people died in the bushfires.
George and Gloria Krommnehoek of Callignee managed to save their house and most of their .8 ha property thanks to their trusty Furphy farm water cart.
Thousands of the cast iron carts were made at Shepparton’s Furphy Foundry between 1880 and 1983. They became an Australian icon during WWI. In fact, Aussie slang uses the word for a rumour, or an erroneous or improbable story. Used to transport water to Army personnel, the carts, with "J. Furphy & Sons" written on the tanks became popular as gathering places where soldiers could exchange gossip, rumours and fanciful tales—much like today's water cooler discussion. The sound of the rumbling carts also was frequently confused with artillery fire -- but was a false alarm.
There was nothing false about the alarm at Callignee. George fought the fire for nearly 12 hours, towing the Furphy cart behind an old International tractor. During the battle, the Furphy sprung a leak. The foundry agreed to repair the tank for free. The company reported they were “quite chuffed” when asked to help out. Mr. Furphy says the foundry repairs 30 to 40 of these carts every year.
“We love our old Furphy,” said Gloria. George, a member of the Traralgon South Fire Brigade, said a Furphy cart belonging to the Callignee Fire Brigade was being considered as a permanent memorial to the 12 people who died in the raging forest fires.
And I am posting this now, because???? Well, last weekend we had guests here who enjoyed a day in Algonquin Park. It was hot, as it has been most of the spring. It was dry, as it continues to be. We need rain. When I asked how their day had been, the reply was that they'd had a wonderful time. They saw moose, and while picnicking at Canisbay, they watched the forest fire across the lake. It is not every day that a guest describes a forest fire as an attraction... They reported seeing flames shooting up above the treeline.
That gave me pause. Two helicopters were zooming about checking the fire, and forest fires are part of the natural occurences in our forests. Algonquin is a BIG park. It gets forest fires. Lighting is one of the usual suspects. People are the other... The tale of George and his fearless Furphy reminds us just how devastating forest fires can be. It is a cautionary tale for everyone to take extra care in the bush. When those fire hazard indicators are set at high, they must be taken seriously. Seriously.
Even if this sign needs someone to move the needle two spaces to the right...