“I’ll just dig away at it and cut a bit of firewood”: slow and steady

Published on 10 November 2021


“I’ll just dig away at it and cut a bit of firewood”: slow and steady in the resilient community of Barkstead.

Darryl Slater has lived at his property in Barkstead for 65 years. His cosy dwelling sits in a clearing, surrounded by reminders of the June storm by way of broken trees and strewn branches.

It’s the worst storm the area has had in well over 50 years and the damage across the Barkstead portion of the VPC Plantation at State Forest need to be seen to be believed.

“I’ve never seen nothing like this,” Mr Slater said.

“You couldn’t hear much, there are all these trees down but the wind was so strong you couldn’t hear the trees falling down.”

Ask Mr Slater if he’s worried about the huge clean-up that still needs to occur after a trailer and one of his utes was crushed by those fallen trees, and he simply shrugs his shoulders.

“Nah, I’ll just dig away at it and cut myself a bit of firewood I guess,” he said.

Mr Slater worked at the local sawmill before retirement, so he knows a thing or two about wood.

“There’s some bloody good mill logs over there, pity there’s no sawmills now,” Mr Slater said.

“I reckon I’ll have firewood for a while,” he chuckled.

Ever prepared after a life in the country, Mr Slater had a small generator to keep his television and lights working, despite five days with no power.

“That was handy. We lost a bit of meat out of the freezer though, couldn’t run the fridge or anything off it.”

Luckily his house is insured, after a tree took out a powerline at the front of the home he shares with his wife.

“Trees went across the power lines, the wires broke and one of them whiplashed back and took my veranda post out. Lucky it didn’t come through my lounge room window.”

The biggest trees fell behind the property.

“One of them blew over and just squished the trailer there.”

Nearly every tree in a nearby gully has been flattened. Although it takes a lot to faze him, Mr Slater calls the site “absolutely unbelievable.”

His next steps are to get an arborist to cut down a tree that is on a worrying lean over his shed.

“At least there’s not much to blow over now,” Mr Slater said.

Mr Slater is echoing a sentiment felt all over the Shire, as residents try to find a bright side to the lingering scenes of destruction:

“You see at this time of the year, we’re usually in shade all the time, but now we’re going to get some sun in, so that’s good.”



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