What's On In The South Burnett Today?

A Big Thank You To Everyone

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BlazeAid South Burnett camp co-ordinator John Lillico, who travelled down from Muttaburra for the project, reviews some of the vital statistics achieved

November 20, 2018

The BlazeAid camp near Kingaroy Airport – which has been operating for a little over a month – will be officially breaking up this week.

A “thank you” dinner was hosted at the camp site on Saturday night to acknowledge the visiting volunteers who have been working on farms as well as the local volunteers who have been preparing meals and handling administration tasks.

A total of 52 volunteers helped out at the camp, including the co-ordinators, kitchen workers and admin helpers.

Volunteers from across Queensland, NSW and Victoria have been cleaning and mending fences, clearing away debris and generally helping on farms in the Hodgleigh, Booie and Coolabunia areas which were devastated by last month’s wild storm.

The call for help went out from Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff and Murgon businessman Leo Geraghty, and the BlazeAid team quickly responded.

Leo, who helped organise the BlazeAid camp when they came to the South Burnett after the 2013 floods,  gave a brief history of the organisation.

The movement was the idea of Victorian sheep farmer Kevin Butler, a victim of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

Since then, the volunteers have travelled all over Australia “wherever there is a need”.

This is the fourth time they’ve set up somewhere in the South Burnett but the first time in Kingaroy.

Camp co-ordinator John Lillico drove from Muttaburra to take control of the project.

He praised the support the camp had received from the South Burnett Regional Council, local service clubs, church groups and individual volunteers.

“I have done 11 BlazeAid camps now and the community support here is the best I have seen,” John said.

A touching thank you to the volunteers came from 95-year-old Eileen Horne, from East Nanango.

BlazeAiders helped out on her property after the storm.

“In 95 years, I have never asked for help before,” Eileen Horne told  “I think they are fantastic.”

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell handed out small gifts to the volunteers who assisted with the clean-up.

Kingaroy Christian Care provided $100 shopping vouchers which Mayor Campbell distributed to farming families.

Leo urged any of the volunteers who wanted to continue helping out locally to now head northwards to Lower Wonga Hall where a BlazeAid camp is helping out at the 26,000 acres of farming land burned out in September in the Woolooga / Sexton area.

* * *

Some vital Kingaroy BlazeAid statistics:

  • Properties commenced – 52
  • Properties finished – 49
  • Fences cleared – 45km
  • Fences repaired – 41km
  • Acres cleared – 82
  • Volunteer days worked – 503
  • Meals prepared – 589
  • Caterers – 14

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The camp couldn’t have happened without the help of the Kingaroy & District Vintage Machinery Club which offered their facilities for the project … from left, Noel and Jan Barsby, Kingaroy; Matt Lonsdale, Russell Dower (who was also volunteering with Wooroolin Lions), club president John Sloan and Scott Barsby, Kingaroy

Trish Harris and Lynne Walters, from Nanango, kept the camp running smoothly

John Lillico with Leo Geraghty who helped organise the BlazeAid camp at Murgon in 2013

Camp co-ordinator John Lillico joins with BlazeAid volunteers to cut the “thank you” cake

BlazeAid volunteer Dawn Gaspert, Sunshine Coast, with Eileen Horne, from East Nanango

Vicki Jensen, from Kingaroy, was volunteering in the kitchen

BlazeAid volunteer Gaynor Day, from Melbourne, was working hard dishing out dinners

John Lillico, Leo Geraghty and Keith Campbell distributed gifts to volunteers and farming families … Kingaroy Christian Care supplied $100 Aldi vouchers for every farming family that was assisted

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff presented Lynne Walters, from Nanango, with a bunch of flowers as a thank you for her help in organising the camp

Kathy Duff also presented a “thank you” gift of two bottles of Kingsley Grove wine to camp co-ordinator John Lillico

Kingaroy Men’s Shed president Eric Ford thanked the groups who stepped forward to help prepare the meals for the BlazeAid camp

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff, Mayor Keith Campbell, Kingaroy Men’s Shed member Phil Day; and Kevin Black (Uniting Church, Kingaroy)

Geoff Aird (Taabinga Rotary) with Vince Evans and Neil Black (Kingaroy Rotary)

Ann, left, and Rock Boothroyd, right, with some of the people who helped out on their Hodgleigh property … Alan Coe, Brisbane; BlazeAid volunteer Mike Gaspert, Sunshine Coast; and Brent Weekes, Nanango

Ron and Ivy McKinnon, from Hodgleigh, with BlazeAid volunteer Bernard Brennan, from the Sunshine Coast, who had been helping at the camp from Day 1

Rotary exchange student Yusuke Takaiwa, from Kanazawa, Japan; Geoff Aird (Taabinga Rotary) and John and Karyn Bjelke-Petersen

A highlight (?) of the night was a challenge to Mayor Keith Campbell to make a Figure 8 wire knot, a necessary skill when mending a fence … he failed

The Sempf Family, from Blackbutt, provided musical entertainment on the night

A large crowd of local and visiting volunteers, and farming families, gathered at the Kingaroy & District Machinery Club’s meeting shed for the “thank you” dinner

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