Thursday, 10 November 2016

Being Prepared for Bushfire

There's a bushfire in the forest to the southwest of Crystal Waters. It's been burning since Sunday. The heat and wind over the past couple of days has brought it closer to homes. It hasn't been this dry here for over a decade.

Our local rural fire brigade is working so hard to keep it at bay and now has support with many other teams and an aerial crew. Thick smoke fills the valley. 

Helicopters have been brought in to help fight the fire near us - collecting water from the neighbouring dairy farm's mega dam.
The view from our verandah.

Here is the notification from - a good place to go to find out information if there is a fire in your region.

Twenty-one Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) crews are on scene at a large vegetation fire burning near Jimna Bellthorpe Road, Bellthorpe (north of Woodford). Firefighters are working with water bombing aircraft to contain the fire, which has been burning since Sunday. There is no threat to property at this time, however a smoke haze is likely to affect the Crystal Waters township and surrounds. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and to conditions. Residents should close windows and doors and keep medications close by if they have a respiratory condition. If residents are concerned their property is under threat, they are advised to call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Status: Going
Response: 6/11/2016, 12:06 PMUpdated: 10/11/2016, 5:25 PM
Vehicles on Scene: 25

The closeness of the fire has got us talking together as a family about our bushfire plan. It's always good to revisit it regularly so we know what to do, and to help the kids feel less anxious.

From a landscape planning perspective, in doing a permaculture design for our place, we did consciously design for a bushfire event - it's an inevitability in the Australian bush. The village too was designed with bushfire in mind. Between the main fire sector and our house is a large open area, a dam and also a windbreak of low-flammable species. We also try to keep the grass and leaf-fall to a minimum close to the house. The southwest corner of our house is also made of non-flammable materials. There is also a fire hydrant in front of our place that has high pressure fed from high tanks. By designing your property well and thinking about this in advance, you and your family are much safer and/ore ready in bushfire events.

We've been reviewing our water situation too. The Mary River which runs along the north boundary of the village has pretty much stopped flowing. We get our garden and laundry water from its tributaries which thankfully are still running. Our main drinking water tank however is as low as I've ever seen it. Thankfully we have two more large tanks uphill that we can syphon from. If we don't get rain in the next few days, we'll be transferring this water from the upper tanks.

To prepare for bushfire season, here are some tips from the Queensland Government.

  • Ensure your house number is clearly displayed (for emergency service crews)
  • Keep your grass mown
  • Remove excess combustible material (e.g. dry grass, dead leaves and branches) from your yard
  • Move any flammable items such as wood piles, paper, boxes, crates and garden furniture well away from the house
  • Trim low-lying branches (those under 2m in height)
  • Keep gutters clear of leaf litter
  • Buy and test gutter plugs
  • Enclose open areas under decks and verandas
  • Install fine steel wire mesh screens on all windows and doors
  • Make sure any LPG cylinders are upright and relief valves are pointed away from the house
  • Check that pumps, generators and water systems are working
  • Replace any damaged roofing and seal any gaps
  • Check that your first-aid kit is fully stocked.


  1. Stay safe Morag. Such a beautiful part of the world, hope the fire is soon under control.

  2. Also have an evacuation box ready each season. This includes old woolen blankets, torches, cotton clothing and boots, drinking water for all, a fully charged mobile phone battery, and a few basics. People often leave a property in an emergency and get caught in the fire itself. Monitor the conditions every morning and if very windy, consider evacuating to a safer spot for that day or longer. In Victoria, we used to have a policy of 'Stay and defend'. Since Black Saturday, this has been changed to 'Leave Early.' I live in the bush and find the need to evacuate at least 5 times a year. It's worth putting this option in your plan.

    1. Wow - 5 times a year! Yes I agree with everything you say. Thanks for writing and sharing your experience.

      Just to clarify for readers, there was another list on the website I referred to which talks about what to do when there is a fire close. The little list above is about what to do before fire season hits.

  3. Stay safe, Morag. I hope rains come soon to fill your tanks and re-green your valley. Meg:)