Bringing lightness in the wake of Woolooga bushfires
Gympie region photographer Jai Roos pays tribute to a 'local group doing great things in our community'
STANDING on my veranda overlooking the mountains covered in a smoky haze, I hug my three children tightly, knowing there are lives being torn apart by the fierce torrent of the Woolooga bushfires.
The three days to follow are spent receiving updates from my husband - a member of the local council, news reports of dead livestock and homes damaged, two towns completely distraught by the wrath of bushfire.
Once the fires are brought under control - the towns affected are left to scrummage through the damage, treat injured livestock and tend to the remnants of their properties. The devastation is real and the calls for help start rolling out, but what is more amazing is how the surrounding communities rally to support and donate to those in need.
The donations came in fast; clothes, water, food. Offers of agistment for those who have not one shoot of grass to feed their animals, the irony of what was an entire lucerne farm next door to some is now nothing but bare, burnt land. People are giving up their time to assist in manual labour, rebuilding fences, moving debris of sheds that didn't make it through. The Woolooga Hay Drive - organised by an incredible generous soul with the assistance of Tom Grady Rural - offering to deliver the hundreds of bales of hay donated by the community.
As the weeks roll by, the Wide Bay region receives the most desired, desperately needed downpours of rain - more than 140ml falling upon the graces of Woolooga and Sexton.
By this stage, the local news channels have stopped reporting on what was an extremely tolling time on the land owners, the emergency services from all over south-east Queensland and the volunteers who stepped up and stepped in without even thinking twice.
Its easy to forget, to get caught up in the now and forget about those who suffered, those who gave their time and risked their lives to save what they could, but not everyone forgot.
This is where the Gympie Rural & Regional Women's Network come in to it. A group of local women, donating their time to the rural community with the sole purpose to bring positivity and support to the region.
On November 10, 2018, this wonderful group of women, with the assistance of the Gundiah Community Committee put together a night to give back to those affected by the Woolooga fires.
The night consisted of a roast dinner, meat donated by Meat City Morayfield, live music by talented Gympie performer Ethan Roberts, lucky door prizes and a chance to come together, to grieve what was lost, praise those who acted without a second thought and to smile, laugh and remember how great it is to live in such an amazing community.
This act of kindness and generosity sparked by the caring souls of GRRWN is a wonderful reminder that the community spirit in the Wide Bay region is well and truly alive.
No matter what is thrown our way, the people around here will band together, donate and support in whatever way they can.
I am proud to be a member of this wonderful community.