Category Archives: Bushfires

Well Thumbed Books: ten years of books, food, community … and fun

‘We had no idea what we were doing. We had no books, no bookshelves. No cash reserves to speak of. And none of us really wanted to work.’

That was Heather O’Connor, remembering a planning meeting in May 2010. Someone had ‘some damn-fool idea’ of a second-hand bookshop in Cobargo, and five women – Heather, Virginia White, Louise Brown, Annie Lee and Chris Haynes – had gathered to discuss it over lunch.

‘Seriously, we weren’t even through the hors d’oeuvres and there seemed to be no hope… Four months later we opened.’

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Our neighbour Hanno finds the walk to school arduous. So when he goes to pick up his big sister Eve in the afternoon, Jens takes him in the wheelbarrow. And sometimes after a big day at kindy, Eve hops in too for a lift home.

Jens and Tash used to have one of those Dutch bicycles with a child capsule on the front of it. Both kids fitted, side by side. But they lost it in the fire when their house burned down.

The fire happened six days after Christmas and four days after Eve’s birthday. Tash tells me that sometimes they remember presents that were in the house. ‘Burnt?’ says Eve. ‘Yes,’ says Tash, sad face. ‘Burnt.’

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An interesting time to launch a book

Who could have known, back in December when I started the immune-suppressant Ocrevus treatment for my MS, that a pandemic was brewing? I’ve been feeling particularly exposed and even asked people at my March book launch (more on that later) to refrain from the usually obligatory hugs at the occasion. But now, a month later, I have the results from my latest blood test. My white cells are ‘completely within normal range’, said my GP (she of The Joke fame). Great! So I’m not immune depleted after all! But hang on—the Ocrevus isn’t working? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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In the line of fire

1.30 am, New Year’s Eve. The FiresNearMe text: Put your plan into action. I hear a vehicle down on the road, coming in from the forest. Then another. Soon, a constant stream.

2 am. We’re backing down the driveway, in two cars. I have the dogs, food for them, water, my walker, and the Mechanic has my scooter, our documents bag and the go-bag, which has been sitting in a corner for weeks.

Down at the Quaama fire shed an RFS guy stops us.
Do you know anyone out at Verona? he says.
Plenty, why?
Lots of homes are threatened. We can’t get out there, not enough of us.
Later, too late, I wondered if he wanted us to ring and warn them.

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