WA farmers join forces to help Kangaroo Island

Shannon Smith and Daryna ZadvirnaGreat Southern Herald
Smoke rises from burning hay bales on Kangaroo Island.
Camera IconSmoke rises from burning hay bales on Kangaroo Island. Credit: David Mariuz/AAPIMAGE

Arthur River farmer Sam Burgess woke up one morning and realised he needed to do something to help those affected by the bushfires raging across Australia.

He took to Twitter, asking for people to join him, after deciding he would work with BlazeAid to install new fences in areas where fire had swept through.

On the same day, Geraldton’s Paul Brown had the same idea.

A mutual friend pointed out they had both posted the same thing on Twitter within an hour of each other.

They decided to join forces to create WA Fencing Farmers, and set about planning a trip to Kangaroo Island to help get life there back to normal.

Mr Burgess said he was expecting to gather a small group — maybe of six or seven people — but as of Monday, more than 60 people, from Esperance to Northampton, had signed up.

“It has got way bigger than I thought, so we are actually going to do two trips,” Mr Burgess said.

“I am originally from the east coast and all of my family are pretty well surrounded by fire.

“Initially I planned on going to the Snowy Mountain region, but when I spoke to BlazeAid, we decided that seeing as we were coming from this side of the country, we would go to Kangaroo Island to save some travel.”

He estimates there are hundreds of kilometres that need to be re-fenced.

The priority is to recreate boundaries between farms so people can keep livestock that escaped the fire on their farms.

“We are driving to Kangaroo Island and spending 10 days on the island working with BlazeAid which is virtually going to be 10 days of camping and fencing,” Mr Burgess said.

“There is a base camp set up on the island and they will supply us with accommodation, which is really going to be a shearing shed or something that we can roll our swags out into.”

Among the WA group will be Wagin councillor and State Emergency Service volunteer Lyn Lucas.

Cr Lucas said she came across the WA Fencing Farmers project on Facebook.

“I thought ‘you know what? We haven’t been called up for the SES to go and help, so this can be my own way of doing something’,” she said.

“I’m really excited to set off and help. But at the same time, it’s so horrible to see photos of what had happened, so seeing it in person will also be devastating.”

Mr Brown will go over with the first half of the group on February 15, and Mr Burgess will take the next group over on February 25.

You can find WA Fencing Farmers on Facebook and Twitter.

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