Picking up the pieces

Tonimbuk farmer Mark Hanneysee owns 88 acres of farmland and is amongst those struggling to get back on track.

By Jessica Anstice

A huge fire tore through the Bunyip State Park and destroyed over 14,500 hectares of land leaving farmers to suffer the challenges that followed.

Tonimbuk farmer Mark Hanneysee owns 88 acres of farmland and is amongst those struggling to get back on track.

Not only did the fire take a toll on Mr Hanneysee’s emotional health, it put a large strain on his business and livelihood.

“My issue is after the fire, it wasn’t during the fire. The fire is the easiest part to be honest,” he explained.

“After the fire, there was no water, I lost all of my feed, there’s no pasture on the ground and at the time you couldn’t leave to go and get supplies because they wouldn’t let us back into Tonimbuk.

“There’s a whole list of issues that developed there.”

He was forced to leave his farm and work for an agricultural company.

“I didn’t get a choice. I had to get a job because I need to pay for everything because insurance isn’t coming to the party,” he said.

“Everyone has been affected in different ways. People have had strokes after the fire just from the amount of stress.

“The issue we all have is that a lot of lessons after 2009 weren’t actually adhered to and the same mistakes were made 10 years later and that’s frustrating.”

Cardinia Shire Council will establish a committee to help steer the community’s recovery from the Bunyip Complex bushfires.

“BlazeAid are wonderful but they can’t get enough people to actually do the work,” Mr Hanneysee said.

“That’s something I’ve got to deal with through this committee the council is going to set up.

“Hopefully the committee will be able to not solve it this time but prevent it from happening again.”

For more on the bushfire relief and recovery effort, see On A Soapbox on page 13 and On The Land on pages 48-49.

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