The school holidays and the holiday season in general is supposed to be a time for celebration, relaxation and to catch up with your loved ones.
However for many families, this holiday period has been fraught with disaster due to the bushfires sweeping the nation. In particular, the bushfires sweeping the NSW South Coast.
I spoke with two young families from Bermagui who at a moment’s notice had to drop everything, and flee their homes whilst fiercely protecting their children.
It’s a scene you think about when you think about refugees fleeing a war zone in a far-away country, but these are families right in our backyard fleeing from a local enemy. The local enemy is fire and brave men and women all across Australia are battling the blaze, right now as you read this.
The Mannings and Jubbs are neighbours and they drove six hours to Canberra from Bermagui on New Years Eve to escape the fires sweeping their coastal community.
“We woke the kids up at 6am after packing our essentials. It was pitch black even at 8.30am and for most of the day. Said Neil Jubb (34) husband to Karina (35) and father to Isabella (8), Charlotte (6) and Aria (4).
“Isabella our eight-year-old understood what was happening more than our younger kids. She was scared and in shock vomiting. She wouldn’t eat for days. She’s much better now but still getting used to being away from home and not knowing when we will go back.” Said Karina Jubb.
Neil didn’t have enough fuel to make the drive to Canberra so like many others in his suburb had to drive around to find whatever reserves were available.
“I was able to siphon off diesel fuel from an old crane. A mate of mine siphoned some from an abandoned car. Another mate got some fuel from a boat.” Said Neil.
“I drove to Sutton Forest to pick up a generator.” Said Leigh Manning (29) before both families made the trek to Canberra.
Whilst both families say they have enough supplies to last them until it is safe to return home, they do worry about not only the long term financial, but most importantly psychological impact especially on their children and the rest of their community.
“We have people within our community who don’t have insurance and as a result, they have stayed to protect their homes. We are lucky we have insurance but we still have the financial impact of being off work until it is safe to go back home. We are really not sure when this will be and if our homes will still be standing upon our return.” Said Eva Manning (30) wife of Leigh and mother to Amelia (8) and Kallum (5).
“Cobargo got hit hard, we have been lucky so far. We are thankful we are all together and safe.” Said Eva.
I met the Jubbs and Mannings at Power Kart Raceway as the Go Karting, Ice-Skating and indoor Golf centre were giving golf and ice-skating to families from the South Coast displaced from the fires.
“The offer from Power Kart Raceway has been so generous. It’s a great distraction for the kids and it helps curb their cabin fever.” Said Karina Jubb.
“We just had to do something for these families as they have pretty much packed their entire lives into a suitcase and have come to our city. The least we could do is help their kids have a fun time and the parents not have to worry about paying for entertainment during such a difficult time.” Said Gaye, the owner of Power Kart Raceway.
The offer to give free golf and ice-skating to displaced families from the South Coast has been running since the weekend.
To further support families displaced from the bushfires not only from the South Coast of NSW but also the whole of Australia, Power Kart Raceway and Canmum.com are organising a Family Fun Day this Sunday 12 January from 3-8pm where donations from the sale of every ticket will be donated directly from the Red Cross Australia Bushfire Appeal to help the many families in need.
Tickets for racing will be as follows:
Go Kart races: ALL $25 ($10 donation to Red Cross)
Adults: $15 ($7 donation to Red Cross)
Kids: $12 ($4 donation to Red Cross)
(90 minute session) $18 – ($8.00 donation to Red Cross)
(60 minute session) $15 – ($5.00 donation to Red Cross)
(30 minute session) $11 – ($3.00 donation to Red Cross)
Ice skates cost $3.00 to hire and the $3.00 will be given to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal
There will be a raffle, face painting, balloon twisting for a $2 gold coin donation to the Red Cross along with food trucks and a DJ.
Come down to Power Kart Raceway on Sunday and bring your friends and family to support this worthy cause.