The Bundarra Valley community has joined with CFA, Forest Fire Management Victoria and East Gippsland Shire Council representatives to celebrate the opening of the Bundarra Community Centre.
The new building and upgraded services were made possible through funding from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, East Gippsland Community Foundation, East Gippsland Shire Council, CFA and the McCoy Family on whose land the facility is situated.
The centre, which is next to Bundarra Fire Station (a satellite of Omeo brigade), is the result of grants received after the 2019-20 fires. Residents now have a place to meet to discuss fire plans with DEECA staff and hold social celebrations. Omeo brigade members will also be able to hold brigade meetings at the facility.
The building includes an oven, fridge, mains water, solar power and concrete pathways. Thanks to a further grant, East Gippsland Shire Council installed the STAND system (‘Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters’) to enable direct communication to an incident control centre. Omeo brigade is also funding a monitor and laptop so that community members can get the most up-to-date information about fires from Emergency Management Victoria, CFA and other agencies.
“This is a wonderful achievement for the people of Anglers Rest and the Bundarra Valley,” Omeo Fire Brigade Captain Graham Symons said. “It will increase community discussions, cohesiveness, resilience and be of great value for the future.”
Another success story for Omeo brigade can be found at its second satellite station at Cobungra, a small cluster of houses and farms on the Great Alpine Road on the way to Mount Hotham. This community was greatly impacted by the 2019-20
fires. Families spent countless days fighting the fires as they came very close to houses and grazing lands.
After the fires, some strike teams at Cobungra donated a trailer, firefighting pumps, two 500-litre slip-ons, a generator and money to buy a community defibrillator and fund an extension of the shed. The extension holds all the donated equipment and has been designed to house an ultralight tanker, which may be given to Omeo brigade during a campaign fire.
The extension will also have the STAND system to improve communication needs in the area.
The community received a building permit in June 2023 and the extension was finished in August. The local builder used local contractors so that the economic benefit remains in the Omeo area.
The project was funded by Omeo brigade with additional assistance from CFA HQ.
“We’ll be forever grateful for the donations from strike teams who came to Cobungra to assist, local donations and the support of Omeo Rural & Hardware shop, which since the 2003 fires has given equipment to Omeo Fire Brigade,” Graham said.
“Small towns and small brigades can achieve great things when they work together. Omeo Fire Brigade is very appreciative.”
This is an exciting time for Cobungra residents, who didn’t previously have any community facilities in their area. And they can also look forward to next year, when they will receive a replacement fire truck which will be housed at Cobungra Fire Station.
|Ronda Manhire, Omeo Fire Brigade