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Getting on with business on Kangaroo Island – through support and planning

Kangaroo Island

A story from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, reflecting life in September 2020.

It was both terrifying and devastating when the main fire storm hit the west end of Kangaroo Island on 3 January 2020.

Tim Buck is a farmer on a 700 hectare family property west of Parndana on Kangaroo Island. 

The main front of the fire storm, which ran from the south coast up towards Stokes Bay, reached his property at about 8 o’clock that evening, and took out the entire farm.

They lost grazing paddocks, two houses, two sheds – including the main shearing shed, 3500 sheep, 120 cows and calves and two working dogs.

“We got hit just about as bad as anyone on the island,” said Tim “and it’s certainly been a journey since then”

The Bucks are extremely grateful for the support they have received on their recovery journey.

“It’s pretty humbling, the amount of support we’ve been given all the way through, from community, friends, government, charity and recovery teams,” said Tim.

“The recovery teams made sure we haven’t missed out on any support or grants, while we’ve been busy trying to get our property back up and running.”

The Bucks were able to access a primary producer grant, which went entirely into fencing.

They also had support from charities, such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and BlazeAid, who helped with fencing and re-building. The community also rallied around.

“We had family friends help for three months with fencing,” said Tim “and another farmer donated a trained sheep dog, which has just been invaluable.”

“The community resilience is pretty amazing. Everyone has been doing it tough. Everyone has banded together and what the Island has achieved in terms of recovery in 9-10 months is pretty amazing really.”

Having a recovery plan in place has been critical to the Bucks’ ability to rebuild after the bushfires.

“We’ve had a lot of focus on planning in our business in recent years, so it was a natural step to take time out to spend a day looking at the priorities for the next 6-12 months,” Tim said.

“This process made it clear what the steps were and what each of us need to do to make it happen, so we can get back to normal business.”

The Bucks sat down in April 2020 and created their recovery plan that includes their recovery priorities over the months and year ahead. 

Those priorities have included:

  • Purchasing 4000 sheep
  • Building a confinement lot for the sheep, and focussing on the lambing period
  • Building a large shearing shed
  • 35 kilometres of fencing built so far
  • Building implement sheds
  • Purchasing machinery
  • Rebuilding Tim’s parents’ house and buying a house for Tim and his wife, Kate

The Bucks hope that achieving these priorities will allow them a fresh start in 2021 and a return to a normal business.

“We’ve achieved an amazing amount this year and we are on track to, hopefully, run a normal business next year with stock numbers and programs,” said Tim “It will be good to get back to business, rather than be focussed on recovery.”