“I have lived on the island all my life. I am sixth generation, with family names being Snelling, Calnan and Chapman on my mother’s side. My mum grew up at Middle River then Snug Cove, running up and down the cliffs with the goats before she moved to Kingscote for work. My Grandparents, Ross and Gladys spent many years in Cygnet River, farming, butchering and with the love of racehorses enjoyed being close to the track. They then moved to Glenelg and had weekly outings to Morphettville. My father was a great provider for our family and took on the butchering role from Ross, building a new shop in Dauncey street when I was young. He was a great man and I miss him. I grew up in Kingscote, went to Kingscote school, and then moved to Parndana. As a young girl, I always wanted to be an air hostess or a shop assistant, I suppose I just like being with people, I am very social. I love running into old schoolmates and having a chat, it feels like yesterday we were growing up together. I enjoy connecting with people and catching up.
I remember when I first moved out to Parndana, what a great community, I worked in the local stores, the hotel and cleaned at the school over time. I remember that you could walk up to anyone and talk to them
didn’t matter what age or background, everyone was so friendly. Still, now it’s the same whether they are kids we see at sport right to our elderly citizens, you can sit and talk to anyone, it is just a great place.
Volunteering is what I do. My mum was an ambulance officer for twenty-five years, I did think about becoming an ambo at one stage. The kids were the age where you could start doing something like that. People volunteer all the time and don’t even realise they are volunteering, it’s a part of rural life. All rural communitiesrely on volunteers. You volunteer because you want to, you know you are making a difference. My grandma always used to say, ‘keep busy, keep young.’ It is huge satisfaction to see projects you have been involved in getting completed. Just keep writing grants, keep getting money and keep putting it back into our community. That’s a part of what we do, it’s great to see the change that we do as volunteers.
Married to Terry, my partner my best friend, living on the family soldier settlement farm and running it along with our rural hardware business with Rachelle and Frank is what I do in my spare time. Kimberly is in Queensland so when we can we will go and have another visit to the warm end of the country.
After Terry became Group Officer for the CFS, I went into the station one day during an incident down west, I had never done anything in there before, they were busy and needed a hand. I just jumped in answering the phones and organising food for the firefighters. I guess I kind of just stumbled into it. I am proud to have been a CFS member for over twenty years.
This last fire was different though. I didn’t get much sleep those weeks, and I wasn’t home much. When you go home, you don’t sleep, because you are hyped up, you have few hours off, you go home and some nights might only sleep three hours because you think about all the things you’ve got to do tomorrow. All you want to do is go back and start again. You just want to keep helping. There was a stage I couldn’t go home as our farm was burning and the house was under threat, but I wasn’t worried the boys were there doing their best. We shut our shop for 3 weeks during the fires, helping our community was more important. We had a sign at the shop door to say see me at the station. So, they’d come and get the keys, take what they needed and write it in the book. It was challenging looking at everyone’s handwriting and working it all out later on, quite amusing at times, but every single one we figured out. There was one we couldn’t read but a couple of weeks after we reopened this bloke walked in and said, ‘I owe you some money, I came in during the fires.’ It was amazing. You can just trust this community. I remember prior to reopening it was still busy at the station, we had the ADF in each day helping with tasks and recovery, trucks coming and going and FFUs dropping in constantly, even if it was for a cuppa to regroup or grab some water. Terry said ‘we probably should open the shop again, should we? and I thought, yes, I suppose and we decided to open it again on Monday.
You asked when things were back to normal, if it is normal now? Probably not. People are still buying fencing material, farm equipment that they lost, building homes and realising that item they can’t find was probably burnt in the fires. It’s not going to be the same again, it is different. Every day you drive past the trees and it brings back the memories. Every day you see it or talk about the fires or support people, support each other.
That’s what you do in your community, some in the wilder community don’t really understand, that fire will be etched into so many people forever. We were lucky in the scheme of losses, the need to fix our shearing shed is not important when the builder needs to build someone’s home, our fences are nearly done, everyone is affected in different ways, different levels. It’ll be years before it’s normal again… until the next fire comes. Then you’ll forget about this one or it will fade, but I hope that there is a lot of change before then.”