Lending a helping hand to devastated communities

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BlazeAid volunteers help mend fences PIC: BlazeAid

To say 2020 has been a tough year for many rural communities would be an understatement. Before the Covid-19 pandemic threw the world into chaos, a series of devastating bushfires had already brought havoc and heartbreak to multiple communities.

While many grey nomads are playing their part in helping devastated regional economies recover simply by visiting and spending a few dollars, some travellers are helping in a much more direct way.

Volunteer groups like BlazeAid – which currently has 25 camps across NSW, SA and Victoria – says grey nomads are stepping up to help farmers in any way they can.

Martin Dunk, the organisation’s Camp Coordinator at Cobargo in New South Wales, said half of the 25 volunteers currently there were grey nomads.

“The team that we have here in Cobargo work six days a week and we all have a camp day off on a Friday to give everyone the opportunity to get out and explore this fantastic area,” said Mr Dunk. “During the week we will complete an average of 3-5 kilometres of fencing.”

Since January, the various teams that have worked in Cobargo have cleared over 200 kilometres of fence and built 180 kilometres, with an estimated further 300 kilometres still to complete.

With so much still to do, BlazeAid is always looking for more help. Mr Dunk says people of all abilities and experience levels, from ‘never seen a fence before’ to fully qualified fencing contractors are welcome.

“We even have roles for cleaning, catering and admin work,” he said. “All training is provided by our more experienced volunteers so everyone is welcome!”

Property owners are amazed at the speed with which volunteers get the work done … and they are hugely appreciative.

“Something that they have looked at and been overwhelmed by even the prospect of starting will be completed in a week or so,” said Mr Dunk. “The main issue for some of the property owners is that they have lost all of their equipment, or they are so traumatised by the whole experience that they do not want to face building the fences themselves.”

Grey nomad volunteers at Cobargo are offered a free camp spot with electric hook-up, toilet blocks, hot showers … and three meals a day.

“The atmosphere in camp is upbeat and there is always some fun to be had,” said Mr Dunk. “One of our grey nomads came here a while ago with the intention of staying for two weeks and has just completed his third month here, so travellers should be warned … a week can easily turn into a month!”

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One Response to Lending a helping hand to devastated communities

  1. currently with Blazeaid at Bruthen Victoria and helped set up the Buchan camp in February

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