Tenterfield BlazeAid effort now fully operational

The volunteer BlazeAid effort operating out of the Tenterfield Showground is now full steam ahead.

BlazeAid volunteers Greg and Danny hard at work on a property at Tabulam.

BlazeAid volunteers Greg and Danny hard at work on a property at Tabulam.

When the Star caught up with coordinators Judy and Ed Bland on Monday, five teams had been dispatched to help farmers rebuild fences lost in the February bushfires, with 18.3 kilometres of fences constructed so far (on 21.35 kilometres cleared) since the camp started 10 days earlier on March 29.

The organisation keeps accurate records of the work achieved, regularly updated and proudly displayed on a whiteboard in the dining room for all to see. Thirty-seven volunteers have been involved so far and they turn over regularly, but a total of 162 days have been worked. The age range spans 34 to 81 years, averaging 63.5.

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Mr Bland said all the volunteers had been travellers with no local 'walk-ins' as yet, but anyone with a day to spare is welcome to join the crew for breakfast from 6am and the 7am muster to be given a job.

BlazeAid is assisting landowners across all the areas affected by the fires. Volunteers are rotated between far Tabulam destinations and nearer Mt Lindesay Rd jobs so that the same ones are not travelling long distances each day.

Of the 41 farmers needing help now registered, Mr Bland said six of the smaller jobs have been completed with another nine commenced. All the jobs so far have involved fencing, although BlazeAid is willing to help with other tasks to help communities get back on their feet.

Monday's five teams were dispersed between the Tabulam, Mt Lindesay Road and Brushabers Road areas, each equipped with a standard-stocked 'combat' trailer. A sixth trailer sat in the Shearing Complex at the showground, ready for another set of volunteers soon expected.

Tenterfield BlazeAid coordinator Ed Bland with one of six 'combat' trailers each stocked with fencing essentials.

Tenterfield BlazeAid coordinator Ed Bland with one of six 'combat' trailers each stocked with fencing essentials.

Mr Bland said 'a heap more' volunteers are on their way. While some give notice of their arrival, others just turn up so it's a day-by-day coordination process.

He doesn't know how long the camp will remain in place. Some properties have lost so much fencing it's an open-ended prospect.

The Gascoines of Talmoi are being helped and Denis and Jen were among five farmers who joined the volunteers for the Farmers Dinner on Saturday night.

Mr Gascoine told Mr Bland it would have taken them 12 months or more to replace the fencing, but the BlazeAid assistance had put them far ahead.

The combat trailers were among eight to be towed from Bundarra, with one gentleman driving up from Newcastle just to do three round trips to help. Another driver did one trip, and Mr Bland spent many hours on the road doing the rest.

One trailer is now full of around 200 star pickets and fencing wire donated by local farmers to help out those struggling to supply the materials the volunteers need for their work.

Tenterfield farmers have donated a trailer-load of fencing supplies to aid those in need.

Tenterfield farmers have donated a trailer-load of fencing supplies to aid those in need.

"The community should be very proud of what they're doing for each other," Mr Bland said.

"That's the farming community for you. They look after each other."

He said it was also unbelievable how supportive the community has been of the volunteers as they walk through town wearing their BlazeAid vests.

That support has extended to the catering, with community groups now on a weekly roster to provide the evening meal. Mrs Bland said there hasn't been a single repeat of the menu, so there's been lots of variety.

After Sue Jurd and her crew kicked off the schedule, the roster has included the Men's Shed, Lions, Show Society, Rotary, CWA, Business Chamber and Wallangarra/Jennings Progress Association as well as private individuals.