Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2016-01-20 Contents www.courier.net.au
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 – PAGE 9
SAMPSON FLAT BUSHFIRE - ONE YEAR ON
By Genevieve Cooper
Kersbrook man David Miller lost his
house the first night of the Sampson Flat
Bushfire in early January last year.
He started organising to rebuild on his block
off Devils Gully Road in the February.
“This is my home,” he said.
“You’ve got to look forward, you can never
Most of his neighbors are also rebuilding – or
recovering – and have no plans to move.
“Everyone I know around here have just got
on with life,” Mr Miller said.
“Some have been a little slow to rebuild ... but
I understand that everyone is different.”
Even with the head start Mr Miller wasn’t
ready to move into his new house until just
before Christmas and contractors are still
working on his fences.
He spent the year living in a caravan, using
a hastily constructed outdoor ablution shed,
which was quite a challenge in the depths of a
“She was a hard year living in the caravan –
there’s only so many square metres,” he said.
“I’m happy with the (new) house – it’s just
filling it up and having to buy things that is
the hardest part.
“The best part is hot showers and being able
to stretch out in a decent sized bed.”
Mr Miller, who managed to save the workshop
of his industrial refrigeration business from
the fire, also struggled with having to run a
computer and do his paperwork off site.
He keenly feels the loss of such personal
items as his grandmother’s blackwood glory
box and old photographs.
“My advice to people is you’ve got to have
insurance,” he said.
“And people should check that if their house
is destroyed, does their insurance pay for
accommodation while your house is being
He spent the anniversary of the bushfire
hosting a barbecue for his immediate neighbors,
who also lost their homes and are yet to move
into new houses.
“I raised my beer and I said ‘tomorrow
morning I will have three days on my calendar,
one day more than I managed to get last year
when it burnt’,” he said.
By Genevieve Cooper
Paula Tose’s dam might be pretty
low, and the grass around it dry, but
the landscape has come a long way
from the blackened scene it was this
time last year.
Life has also turned a corner for the
Gumeracha woman who is looking
forward to a less stressful 2016 after
successfully defending her Checker
Hill Road home from the ferocity of the
Sampson Flat Bushfire.
The hands-on firefighting (with help
from adult son Mark) might have only
lasted days but the rebuilding of sheds,
fences and other infrastructure on her
11ha property wasn’t completed until
two weeks before Christmas.
“I’m in a much better place now,” she
“I’ve got my life back but it’s just taken
“At the time you go through the fire you
deal with what’s happening, you’re sort
of running on adrenalin and you do what
have to do but eventually you come down
with a thump.
“Lots of people were worse off than me
... but day by day so many decisions have
to be made.
“The whole thing becomes so
overwhelming and so all consuming and
it’s been like that all year so it saps your
energy, emotionally as well as physically.”
Mrs Tose marked the first anniversary
of the bushfire by being interviewed by
the media, but she didn’t mind.
“I’ve not shunned away from TV footage
– I think talking about it helps,” she said.
However, the deadly Pinery Bushfire in
the Mid North in late November, which
killed two people and destroyed more
than 90 homes, did strike a chord.
“When that happened I burst into tears
because you really feel for them (the
victims) and you know they’ve got a long
road ahead of them,” Mrs Tose said.
“I also really feel for those people in
Victoria and WA affected by the recent
fires – too many natural disasters
happening all together.”
Despite her experience, Mrs Tose said
she would definitely stay and defend her
property if fire threatened again – if she
“I can’t do it on my own, the property
is too big, but I would do it with help,”
“I was prepared – thanks to the CFS
community fire safe meetings which
are so important for education and
“The CFS didn’t come for 1.5 hours after
the fire came through and that’s fine
because they can’t be at every property
and you have to presume that you’ll be
on your own and be prepared to be on
“When they did come they were magic,
they did an incredible job ... but you have
to be prepared and you have to have the
The hills behind David Miller’s rebuilt home off Devils Gully Road in Kersbrook still bare some of
the scars of Sampson Flat Bushfire of January 2015.
‘You can never look back’
Paula Tose and her dog Minty stand on the patio overlooking her Checker Hill Road
property and the valley of Gumeracha, a year on from the Sampson Flat Bushfire.
The whole thing becomes
so overwhelming and so
all consuming and it’s
been like that all year.
Life gets better for Paula after battle with blaze
– Fire victim Paula Tose
Top commercial bulls with over 70 years of
performance selection behind them.
Excellent birth, growth & fat figures - aligned for profitable weaner
to heavy steer production with cows able to calf again the next year.
Grown in the Hills and adapted to local conditions
Helmsman Auction: Tues 2nd Feb, 2.30pm
A good selection of honest functional bulls
Field Day: Sunday 7th Feb, 2016
Enquiries most welcome anytime:
Andrew Taylor - 0448 677 100 Patrick Taylor - 0417 882 291
Links Archive The Courier - 2015-12-22 The Courier - 2016-01-26 Navigation Previous Page Next Page