Ash Wednesday 40th Anniversary Commemoration Event

Member News image Ash Wednesday Memorial Garden


16 February 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Ash Wednesday, one of the most significant bushfire events in Australian history. It claimed the lives of 47 Victorians.


More than 180 fires occurred on that day in 1983, including 8 major blazes in many towns and regional communities across the state. It is estimated more than 16,000 firefighters battled the fires.

CFA will commemorate this anniversary with a state-based commemoration at 2pm on Sunday 12 February 2023 at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC) in McBride Street, Cockatoo. 

The AWBEC provides an overview of the eight major fires that occurred on the day and was chosen as the site for the commemoration following consultation with past and present members who fought the 1983 fires.

Capacity at the AWBEC is limited, and expressions of interest to attend the event at this venue have now closed. If you submitted an expression of interest to attend the event at the AWBEC venue you will be contacted by email with further information in the coming weeks.

CFA welcomes everyone to attend the event and we have organised a large community viewing space at an adjoining grass amphitheatre, where a large screen will provide vision of official proceedings.

People attending are encouraged to arrive early to secure a space and to bring picnic chairs and rugs with them.

Any children attending the event must be supervised by an accompanying parent/ guardian/ carer.

If you are unable or would prefer not to attend the event in person, the event will be livestreamed.

For more information visit the Ash Wednesday 40th Anniversary page on the CFA website or Members Online

For information about location accessibility please contact

Anniversaries of significant events such as the Ash Wednesday fires can bring up difficult memories and feelings including sadness, fear and grief.

In the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, and in the days after, if you find yourself experiencing strong emotions, we recommend that you contact Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 which offer support services nationwide.

CFA members and their families can contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line for free, confidential 24/7 access to psychologists, counsellors, peers and chaplains.


  • Member News imageMap of event location
Submitted by Erin Bulmer