Ilse Heidegger captured this snap of Woolooga as the first signs of green shine through after last months devastating bushfire.
Ilse Heidegger captured this snap of Woolooga as the first signs of green shine through after last months devastating bushfire.

Grass incinerated, soil charred, but Woolooga hope remains

DAMS black with soot and a charcoal ground tinged with green might be a dystopian nightmare landscape for some.

For Woolooga residents like Bradley Pike, though, it is a cautious hope.

Mr Pike, who had fire torch 99 per cent of his 283ha property three weeks ago and has spent $1100 on grass seed, said this coming week's forecast rain was the region's "best shot" to get back on its feet.

"The fire was so ferocious and hot, it's burned all the grass and cooked the subsoil which is your seed bed," he said.

While new grass was growing after the rains of the past two days, the extent of the damage was visible in the region's hilly areas.

"There's one little green shoot every 15m," he said.

"That's nothing."

 

Woolooga grazier Brad Pike with father-in-law Wayne Staib at a fence newly built by volunteers after the Woolooga bushfire.
KEY FORECAST: Woolooga's Brad Pike, here with father-in-law Wayne Staib, says the next week's expected rainfall is the region's "best shot” at recovery. Frances Klein

If the seed did not take now, he said, then the problems would be compounded down the line.

There is no Bureau of Meteorology rain gauge at Woolooga, but 46mm of rainfall was recorded at Sexton, 42mm at Miva, and Brooyar caught 34mm.

And while he would "take any rain now", heavy falls would likely create erosion problems given the ground's conditions.

But like any half-empty glass, it was half full too.

Tom Jones, who runs a Bed and Breakfast and owns 300ha, said the wet weather had done more than bring back the grass.

"A lot of run-off filled the dams, which were half dry at best," he said.

His rain gauge recorded 40mm from Tuesday afternoon's downpour.

 

Woolooga returns to life after fire.
Woolooga returns to life after fire. Ilse Heidegger

And follow-up rain (which is forecast) would be the "icing on the cake".

"I'd take up to 100mm, no worries," he said.

Ilse Heidegger, who fought to save her property from the encroaching flames with sprinklers and a leaf-blower, said the first few millimetres of rainfall after four months of dry and then the devastating blaze defied description.

"I don't think you can really put that into words, how you feel," she said. "It encompasses that feeling of hope that we're going to recover and it's going to get better."

The council's recovery efforts in the area are ongoing, with residents still in need of feed, fencing and farming equipment.

Mayor Mick Curran said those who wished to help should donate through GIVIT, while drop-in sessions about land hazards in the wake of the fire are being held next Wednesday, October 17 from 1-3pm, and Friday, October 19 9am-11am at Woolooga Hall.