Fred sees the forest for the trees

Fred Wailes can see the Bunyip State Forest from his new home in Tonimbuk, but says the blackened trees don’t worry him. 42295 Fred Wailes can see the Bunyip State Forest from his new home in Tonimbuk, but says the blackened trees don’t worry him. 42295

– Melissa Meehan
BLACKENED trees line the horizon as viewed from Fred Wailes’ front verandah, a constant reminder of the devastation of the Black Saturday fires.
But it’s a view that doesn’t overly concern the Tonimbuk resident, who says he lives for the present, not the past.
Just 12 months ago, Mr Wailes was left with little more than his ute and some clothes, thanks to the Bunyip Ridge fire ripping through his home of more than 50 years.
The World War II digger was the only resident in the Cardinia Shire to lose his home.
He now lives in a two-bedroom granny flat on a Tonimbuk property belonging to his friends, Peter and Marlies Izzard, overlooking the Bunyip State Park.
Looking at the devastation this week, Mr Wailes said he had moved on since the fires and did not dwell on the events that saw his home destroyed.
“It happened, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“Mother Nature has her own ideas.”
Black Saturday is remembered as the biggest tragedy to hit the state in recent times. It left 173 dead and destroyed more than 2000 homes in Victoria.
One year on, the Gazette looks back on that devastating day and the weeks surrounding the fires that touched many in our community. See pages 8-15.

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