1939 Across Gippsland

The 1939 fires impacted on the Latrobe Valley and surrounding areas. Although Black Friday (13th of January 1939) is recorded as the day of greatest catastrophe, the many fires had been burning in the days and weeks preceding the disaster.

Newsreel footage following Black Friday

Four days prior to Black Friday the fires had already claimed lives and caused widespread destruction. The following pages describe fires at Yallourn, Garfield and Mt Baw Baw

The following link contains details of the Morwell, Yinnar Jeeralang, Jumbuck fire and how 11 people survived sheltering in a well.

On January 14th, 1939 Omeo was attacked by fire with the hospital, 4 shops the hotel and 27 houses destroyed. One man died at Cobungra station and fires swept through Hotham Heights with the manager and his family taking refuge in a well.

Figure 5: Destruction at Omeo from https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/bushfire-black-friday-victoria-1939/

Neil Bolitho posted a first hand account of the fires as told in a letter from his father, Harold Bolitho, to his then fiancé Olive Kracke

Figure 6: Burnt out trestle railway bridge at Noojee

Figure 7 Rebuilding Noojee District railway bridge

Figure 8: A reforestations program for the Toorongo Plateau forests was started in the 1940s. The plateau had been burnt by bushfire in 1926, 1932 and 1939.