Tamboon is a small community of 20 plus residents 30 kms south of Cann River in Victoria’s south east. It was severely impacted by the massive summer fires in East Gippsland 2019/2020. The local people had been planning for such an event for many years and had fought off previous blazes – but not one quite this size and ferocity. At one point Tamboon was under siege from fire from every compass point.
The hamlet’s own timeline tells the story of the amazing response effort.
An extract from a press release issued by the Tamboon Peachtree Association in July 2020 gives a full picture:
The small remote settlement of Tamboon, located on the north east end of Tamboon Inlet, where the Cann River runs into the lake and besides the wilderness camping area of Peachtree Creek and encompassed by the Croajingalong Natural Park in Far East Gippsland was one of a number of communities that was impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires.
The community is 30 kilometres by road from the nearest town, Cann River.
The one access road vulnerable to fire was impacted during the January fires preventing evacuation and the provision of supplies at critical times.
The community comprises permanent and part time residents and combined with campers and other visitation during peak holiday periods within the fire season there can be upwards of one hundred people in the community.
Access into and out of Tamboon township was closed on 30th Dec 2019 and not opened for locals until 29th Jan and reopened to the general public mid Feb.
Eleven residents remained throughout the January fire to prepare defences and fight the fire.
From 30th Dec until 13th Jan a community built firefighting trailer was used to hose down buildings, fences, wood heaps and vegetation around houses.
On 13th Jan the fire impacted and burnt over the fire break and ember attack caused many spot fires in the settlement.
The fortuitous arrival of a single CFA tanker, on 13th Jan, maned by 2 part time residents, who are volunteer CFA members, who forced their way in just prior to the main fire front enveloping and devastating the surrounding bush and burning to the doorstep of several properties, enabled all houses to be saved.
Evacuation by boat of all residents, except the firefighters, to the Ocean beach occurred on 3 separate occasions.
Intermittent food, essential medication and fuel supplies were brought in by the military and other agencies as conditions permitted.
In the aftermath of the fires, in recognition of the need to further support the fire defence team numerous monetary donations were received, and a new dual axle trailer was donated to initiate the construction of a second fire fighting trailer
An account for the Tamboon Volunteer Bushfire Brigade was set up to manage these funds.
On 16th May at a community meeting The Tamboon Peachtree Association Inc was formed as a direct consequence of the experience of the January fires and recognition of the need for a legal entity to represent both the community and the environment with the purpose of protecting life, property and the environment.
TPA Inc adopted the Model Rules for an association and applied for and received a Certificate of incorporation on 24th May, following this ABN and TFN were applied for and received and on the 16th June a bank account was established at the CBA bank in Orbost.
Funds deposited into the Tamboon Volunteer Bushfire Brigade account were transferred into TPA Inc account.
- Specific initial goals defined and discussed as:
- Fire awareness and prevention: fire equipment and shed for storage, fuel load management on private properties, fire break and road access.
- Safe boat access to the lake under all conditions, this is part of the emergency evacuation plan during bushfire threat
- Assess, survey and document flora and fauna in Tamboon and surrounds.
A high priority key objective of TPA is to identify solutions, including funding, to mitigate the significant threat the community faces during bush fires.
A submission was made to the CommBank Bushfire Recovery Grants to gain funding to construct a centralised fire equipment store shed and to fit out a second fire fighting trailer. (this bid was successful)
A number of residents are applying to become CFA volunteer firefighters adding to the seven existing members.
On 29th June a community meeting with numerous agencies, (CFA, DELWP, Parks Vic, EGSC, BRV), was carried out to review and discuss the recent bushfires, the community readiness and recovery, what worked well, lessons learnt and community needs.