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5 generations of the McVean family have been farmers in the Thowgla Valley, just outside of Corryong. The January fires of 2020 threatened the farms and homes of the families in the Valley. As a result, the farmers banded together to fight, equipped with their one-tonne utes and small water tanks on the back. More than half of the farmlands were completely burnt out; 1000’s of hectares burnt, livestock, homes, sheds and fences were lost!

In February of 2020, we organised a fundraiser at the Rising Sun Hotel (our local) in South Melbourne, where dinner and drinks were provided, as Warren recounted on his experience fighting the fires, with a PowerPoint presentation, of the previous month.

The goal was to raise funds to purchase a fire truck and shed to house it, for the Thowgla Valley, providing additional firefighting equipment, that was lacking in January 2020. As they did not see the CFA or DWELP for a fortnight!

Due to COVID, on top of the fires, we have not been able to purchase a fire truck at this stage. However, we have been able to proceed with building the facility to house it in. Initially Warren organised a working bee in March 2021 to pour the concrete slab for the shed. With fantastic contributions from Baxters Concrete, Danny Hill, a Wodonga concreter, and the local farmers.

Then with the generosity of 5 Melbourne based Traddies’, who travelled up to the Thowgla Valley, donating their time and skill for 5 days, a shed was constructed. This shed was purchased from ‘Best Sheds’ in Wollongong, at a very generous discount.! We looked after the workers in true ‘country style’ with cold beers in the trout stream, home-made scones and jam daily (a highlight), and staying in a bush cabin. Well done team!

We are continuing looking at fire trucks, however our efforts have been thwarted because of COVID and no new fire trucks coming into the country. Our aim is to purchase an ‘ex-authority’ truck when it is replaced by a new one. These trucks are fully reconditioned and serviced ready for sale to private industries. With the truck to be manned by volunteers, we want the safest equipment, our money can buy.

We wish many thanks to all who attended and donated at the fundraiser, many of them being Studio 35 Architecture clients and trades. Also, the Rising Sun Hotel who put the night on at no charge and donated to the truck fund.

Stay tuned for updates on the truck itself...