Clair’s new hope after Tara bushfires

16 February 2024 11:22AM

In her 24 years in Tara, Clair had never seen anything like it.

‘We could see the fire in the distance. It looked like a bomb had gone off – like a big mushroom cloud,’ she said.

‘You could hear the bangs from gas bottles. Planes flying over. It was like a war against a fire that had its own weather system in it.’

Clair said she’d been staying at a friend’s property in her retro caravan that she’d nearly finished renovating ahead of a planned trip around Australia.

‘I was going to do the grey nomad thing early,’ she said.

‘I only had 2 windows and some wiring to replace – I was so close.’

But the fires turned those plans on their head. Clair recalled the day ash started to fall on their cars.

‘We were packed and ready to go. It was right at the back of our property – you could hear it coming up through the bush,’ she said.

‘It was this big roar.’

Clair said a plane flew over and dropped water at just the right time to save her friend’s house, but not her little caravan.

‘It would’ve jumped the road and kept going if they hadn’t. Those firies did a bloody good job for what they did save, but I lost everything.’

Days later, Clair pulled up at her friend’s house and said the fire ‘hadn’t even touched the dust on the wall’.

‘Then we walked around the back and there was just black,’ she said. ‘My heart sank. My caravan was just a pile.’

She added that it’s the things she can never get back that hurt the most.

‘My dad passed away 4 years ago, and I was sent a box of his stuff. I never opened it. That’s hard for me,’ she said.

‘But we’re all safe – that’s the main thing.’

After the fire, Clair moved into one of the caravans we supplied for locals who’d lost their homes in the fires at the Tara Showgrounds. There she also received help from our on-site staff.

‘They’re tremendous,’ she said.

Clair has now moved on from the showgrounds. Thanks to a structural assistance grant, she was able to buy a new caravan to replace the one destroyed in the fire.

‘The recovery team were great,’ Clair said. ‘It might be a long path ahead, but I know I’ve got the right support.’

Structural assistance grants

Structural assistance grants help eligible people who are uninsured or unable to claim insurance by contributing to the repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged dwelling to return it to a safe and habitable condition.

These grants are jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments under the Disaster Relief Funding Arrangements.

Clair standing outside her new caravan in Tara