Kangaroo Valley BlazeAid camp set for six months of hard work

ON THE TOOLS: German carpenter Titian Dorn is part of the volunteer team at the Kangaroo Valley BlazeAid camp. Photo: Sylvia Liber

ON THE TOOLS: German carpenter Titian Dorn is part of the volunteer team at the Kangaroo Valley BlazeAid camp. Photo: Sylvia Liber

Perched on a hillside south-west of Kangaroo Valley, surrounded by burnt, blackened trees, the next stage of the village's bushfire recovery is underway.

A BlazeAid camp is taking shape on Tallowa Dam Road, ready to help around 50 property owners in the area who have reached out for help after the bushfires.

BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods.

Working alongside the rural families, the volunteers help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.

A camp based in Milton has been doing some extensive work in the southern Shoalhaven, with the Valley operation set to launch into full swing this week.

The Valley camp has taken on a very international flavour among the volunteers, which includes a woman from Ireland, a Scottish couple, a young German carpenter, a Canadian-turned-Aussie, and a couple of ex-pat Kiwis who for a number of years have called Australia home.

Valley camp co-ordinator Doug Chang joked: "It is a real united nations."

"I think there are only two of us among the first seven volunteers who were actually born in Australia," he said.

Volunteers are expected to be based in the Valley for up to six months to complete the workload.

"Our jobs are prioritised from high to low, and we start with the highest priorities first," Mr Chang said.

"We've had registrations from around 50 property owners who have all had different degrees of impact from the fire.

"About 20 are high priority - they need their fences back to restore their income or they are under personal hardship. So we prioritise them more highly than others."

He said BlazAid's mantra was to assist all property owners affected by natural disasters.

"The words property owners are important. We don't use the word farmers. In this area there are different types of property owners, not just farmers," he said.

"We prioritise them on their need, whether they are income producing, whether they need to contain stock, whether they have a personal situation."

BIG TASK: BlazeAid camp co-ordinator Doug Chang estimates the group will be working in Kangaroo Valley for the next six months. Photo: Robert Crawford

BIG TASK: BlazeAid camp co-ordinator Doug Chang estimates the group will be working in Kangaroo Valley for the next six months. Photo: Robert Crawford

Work started at the weekend when a Sydney based-company, Atom Resources, brought 25 staff members down to volunteer.

"They cleared around three kilometres of fencing in eight hours," Mr Chang said.

"That saved about two or three weeks' work.

HARD WORK: BlazeAid volunteer Greg Murphy clears a Kangaroo Valley property. Photo: Sylvia Liber

HARD WORK: BlazeAid volunteer Greg Murphy clears a Kangaroo Valley property. Photo: Sylvia Liber

"They stayed off-site within the local community, fed themselves, putting money back into the community, as well as working."

HARD WORK: Deb Johnston, Kelli Lee and Sue Maloney start the clean up at the Kangaroo Valley BlazeAid site. Photo: Sylvia Liber.

HARD WORK: Deb Johnston, Kelli Lee and Sue Maloney start the clean up at the Kangaroo Valley BlazeAid site. Photo: Sylvia Liber.

This story Blaze Aid brings Kangaroo Valley back to life first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.