A new home at Tara Accommodation Recovery Park

22 January 2024 3:19PM

Tara local, Lyteesha, didn’t save much from the bushfire that destroyed her home – but she did save a deck of tarot cards.

Before the fires that tore through the district, she consulted her cards, and one in particular kept showing up.

‘Every time I did it, the burning tower kept coming up,’ she said.

‘The burning tower just means change, rebirth, new things, so I thought it was about something else – but it turns out it was a literal thing,’ she said.

‘You’ve got a choice – is it going to break me? Or am I just going to build?’ she said.

Before the fire, Lyteesha lived in the bush in a tent that contained a 7-seater lounge, a queen-sized bed, her books, artworks and a Persian rug.

‘We had a velour lounge outside and the kitchen was outside. I used to have red shade cloth coming out of the tent, like you were coming out each morning onto a red carpet.’

Lyteesha travelled for years before settling in her bushland home at Tara.

‘I’m not used to four walls. I enjoyed it out there,’ she said.

‘Every day, I’m like “I’ll go home and…oh that’s right, it doesn’t exist anymore”.’

Lyteesha said she was still in denial about all that she’d lost even after she saw photos of what was left of her home.

‘It wiped us completely. I can’t even find the water tank because it melted,’ she said.

‘The fridge melted and fell over on itself. I had a gramophone and all the records melted. You can just see this patch of records.’

‘It was pretty much a tinder box. There was nothing I could do to save it.’

She also misses her collection of 70 nail polishes, and her grandmother’s oil paints that would’ve been close to 100 years old.

While she saved her dog from the blaze, Lyteesha was forced to leave her cat behind.

‘I had to because he wouldn’t come with me. I was screaming at him in the driveway, but he wasn’t going on the road. There were planes going overhead,’ she said.

‘Then he turned up 3 weeks later! Not a whisker or a paw had been burned.’

Initially, Lyteesha was housed in one of the caravans that the department has supplied at the Tara Showgrounds. She’s now moved to the Tara Accommodation Recovery Park.

The department has transformed the park into a housing hub for locals affected by the bushfires. It now consists of transportable buildings, 7 modular homes and sites for caravans.

Lyteesha is also receiving help from department staff to plan her next steps.

‘They’ve been really, really good. Really supportive, really helpful and reassuring, which is what I’ve needed.’

Despite the fires, Lyteesha said there’s no question that she will return to the bush one day so that she can build her ‘ultimate house’.

‘I’ll definitely be going home.’

Photo of Lyteesha and her dog in front of her white caravan in Tara