1898 Fires

In early 1898 fires burnt out 260,000 hectares in South Gippsland. Twelve people died and more than 2,000 buildings were destroyed. 1 February 1898 was labelled Red Tuesday.

The Homestead Saved,An incident of the Great Gippsland Fire of 1898″ as title, published by “Globe Engraving Co. Melb”, “Painted by the late J.A. Turner” and reproduced “courtesy of Henry F. Young of Young and Jackson



The following two pages from the Argus describe the extent of the fire with nearly all South Gippsland and Latrobe Valley towns impacted

Argus Feb41898_p5

Argus Feb41898_p6

Here’s a sample of the journalistic talent

It is hard for a man who can scarce open his eyes in the broad glare of day, and who has lost his home, his stock, and everything he possesses in the space of a few hours to be humorous. Yet Mr F Kelly, who lives in the Strzelecki Ranges, could not miss the opportunity of making a joke out of the multitude of his misfortunes. “If you want roast beef, roast pork, roast veal, roast lamb, or baked potatoes, you may get any of them up at my place There is plenty of it there, and you can help yourselves”. He was right. His selection, as he says, is more like a restaurant than a farm. In one heap are the carcasses of 50 head of milking cows. In another there are 100 sheep. A third has as many pigs , and potatoes are all over the place The only live animals on the settlement are some horses, and they are wandering disconsolately round, with-out manes and without tails, and bearing all over signs of the conflict in which they measured then speed against that of the fire. His wife and family of youngsters narrowly escaped the fate of their stock, and they were with difficulty saved by being placed under a tarpaulin, which was kept saturated with water
The selection of Mr Thomas Adkins sen. is also covered with with piles of roasted stock. Sheep numbering 1,600 and including many prize rams of rare value, 150 cattle, and many prize pigs are thus accounted for. While Mr Adkins family were battling with the fire, Mrs Adkins, who is about 70 years of age and suffers severely from asthma, was put down the well and covered with blankets, which the men kept continually wetting with water. The old man, 71 years of age worked with the vigor of youth and as there was a clear space of two acres no effort was made to remove furniture thinking that at least the house would escape. But they were mistaken. The fire came up the hill, and at a bound cleared the two acres and gripped the house. In five minutes it was all over. Mr Adkins saw Black Thursday and now he has passed through this blacker Tuesday, but his heart is still stout and despite his years, he will commence again to cultivate his land and raise stock as soon as the fires are extinguished

Red Tuesday Gippsland,_Sunday_night,
February 20th, 1898
John Longstaff