“Give it a Year or Two, Things Will Be Better Than Ever”

Monday 20 April 2020

Ross Alexander took the call when he was working down in Lennox Head, two-and-a-half hours from his house near Nymboida, looking across heavily timbered valleys towards the New England Range.

“Ross, the fires have closed in and your house is going to be burnt down,” stammered his neighbour. “There’s no way this can be stopped.”

Ross’s house was still being built, but it was already a work of art. It featured Oregon beams salvaged from a demolition in Sydney, a state-of-the-art Swedish fuel stove plumbed to heat the rest of the house, some much-loved furniture, and an antique, free-standing safe. The last item helped save some of his personal papers.

Ross, a highly skilled carpenter and painter, had regarded his house as a labour of love. It was close to being completed, sitting isolated and off the grid atop hundreds of acres of mountainous bushland, dotted with Aboriginal cave sites and plentiful wildlife. He was, and remains, in the process of having it gazetted as a protected wildlife area.

It took days for him to return safely. When he did, the scene was devastating – everything was gone.

For technical reasons the house, solar panels and batteries, and sheds were not yet insured. Yet despite the devastation, Ross is already making plans to rebuild, starting with a covered deck where he can live while doing the work. Friends have offered to help, and support is coming from various quarters, including Vinnies. The race will soon be on to erect shelter before the arrival of winter, which can be bleak up there. Ross currently lives off-site.

“Come back for the opening party,” he joked. “Give it a year or two, things will be better than ever, even if the bank account won’t look too good.”

Can you equip Vinnies to continue supporting people like Ross as they start to rebuild? Please make a contribution to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal at www.bushfireappeal.com.au or call 13 18 12.