Fire on the Limestone Plains/Bush Fires/The 1984-85 Bush Fire Season

The 1984-85 Bush Fire SeasonEdit

After a relatively wet winter/spring which resulted in a prolific growth of vegetation, particularly grass, the A.C.T. experienced one of its driest summers on record. This meant that the fire season was somewhat unusual, in that a high potential for both grass and forest fire existed throughout the season.
The prescribed bushfire period commenced on 1 November and ended 31 March 1985. Bushfire fighters attended 186 fires and although most were quickly contained without serious damage,several fires burnt out of control under extreme weather conditions.Total fire Bans were declared on 13 days. Lightning and arson were responsible for many of the fires.
There were several significant fires during the season
  • in the suburb Holt 600 hectares burnt
  • Mount Ainslie 400 hectares burnt
  • several fires on Mount Majura from 2 to 90 hectares burnt
  • Mount Taylor 80 hectares burnt
  • the Field Firing Range 370 hectares burnt
  • Black Mountain 225 hectares burnt
However, of most significance were the fires that occurred on March 2 & 4
  • Mugga Lane 12,000 hectares burnt
  • Red Hill 100 hectares burnt
  • Mount Majura 6000 hectares burnt[1]
  • Sundown Drive-In 600 hectares burnt
  • Tharwa 5500 hectares burnt[2]
These fires started under extreme fire weather conditions and three of them burned out of control into neighbouring New South Wales, causing several million dollars worth of damage to property. The fires burnt out a total of 28,000 hectares of pasture and bushland (10,000 hectares of which were in the A.C.T.),destroyed 7,000 head of stock. Unfortunately a New South Wales Volunteer fire fighter also died.[3]

The Lanyon Fire 1985 - A recollectionEdit

"About a fortnight before the fire that became known as the Lanyon fires, the Flints at Tidbinbilla (Robert & Bill), sold sheep to Murdoch Geicke who at the time was the part owner/manager at Lanyon. We delivered the sheep to a place called Scott's Flat, which is at the Tuggeranong Hill end of Lanyon of the Lanyon property opposite the old Point Hut turn off at Tharwa Road. There had been arsonist working in and around the ACT and the southern section of Queanbeyan for some time, they had not caught him at this stage. He was believed to have been lighting fires from a motorbike.

Robert remembers Murdoch telling Bill Flint that 'there is too much traffic on the Tharwa Road for an arsonist because he would be noticed'. Within a fortnight we were back there fighting a fire which had believed to be lit by the arsonist from a couple weeks before. The person lit seven separate fires from Tharwa to the old Point Hut turn off on the Tharwa Road. All of the sheep that we had sold to Murdoch had perished in one of the fires which included many other sheep existing on the Lanyon property.

You just never know what was around the corner.

Dad and I felt sickened to see the sheep that we had bred burnt and we ended up there fighting the fires all night around the Melrose Valley Tuggeranong Pines trying to put the fires out that had been deliberately lit. The next year Murdoch bought the sheep again 250 of them and we had a good working relationship with Murdoch for many years."

Rob Flint (2013)

ReferencesEdit

  1. The Mount Majura-Wamboin Fire: 2 March 1985 http://www.firebreak.com.au/jeff_cutting-bushfires-1985.html
  2. The Tharwa Bushfire (Lanyon) 4th March 1985 http://www.firebreak.com.au/1985-lanyon_fire.html
  3. A.C.T. Bushfire Council Annual Report 1984-85