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the Breeze

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A single lightning strike led to mass evacuations and the destruction of an estimated 70 per cent of the bushland on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah).

It also led to a strengthening of a community who recognise the vital importance of being prepared.

Over a period of just more than two weeks from 29 December 2013 and into the new year, more than 16,800ha of the island’s bushland was totally gutted by raging bushfires lit by that initial lightning strike.

Once it was over, as Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) officers took to the air to gauge the extent of what they had been facing on the ground, the devastation was breathtaking – tree after tree, for hectare after hectare, reduced to blackened stalks; white sand awash with ash; and once leafy canopies left rusted by the inferno’s heat.

Redland City Mayor and Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) Chair Karen Williams said the landscape left behind by one of the largest bushfires in Queensland’s recorded history looked apocalyptic.

“To see that sort of destruction gave you an understanding of the intensity of those blazes and how powerful they were,” said Cr Williams just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the fires.

“The photos and television footage of the hectares of devastated bushland on Minjerribah and of the huge plume of smoke that made its way to the mainland, were heartbreaking to watch. 

“It really brought home to me what an incredible job the fire crews did to protect property and lives; and what they continue to do, right across our country, when nature throws such powerful threats at us.

“But the fires also showed us that being prepared is the best way to alleviate the risk to your property, your home and your loved ones.”

Cr Williams said it was never too late to prepare for bushfire season.

“Our memories from the 2013-2014 Minjerribah fires, of course, do fade over time, but our vigilance against such similar threats should never,” she said.

“Already this year we have seen bushfires take hold in just about every state and territory in Australia.

“We have also had several spot fires in our city which thankfully have been brought under control quickly.” 

Council encourages residents to keep up to date with local bushfire alerts by visiting the Redlands Coast Disaster Dashboard where you also find information on how to prepare your property and family for the bushfire season.

The dashboard is also where you can sign up for the free opt-in emergency messaging service Redlands Coast Alerts. Go to:

It is one of the new tools that have come into play since the 2013-2014 bushfires.

Division 2 Councillor Peter Mitchell wasn’t a councillor when the bushfires swept through Minjerribah 10 years ago, but he had been a frequent visitor and his thoughts immediately went out to the people he knew on the island, and also for its wildlife.

Cr Mitchell’s division takes in Minjerribah and he has witnessed firsthand how the island community was affected and, in some ways, continues to be affected by the fires.

“The community, I would say, is equal parts stronger, prouder and more united having worked together during an incredibly tough time, but also incredibly anxious and with deep scars, having realised just how vulnerable the island and its population can be,” he said.

“They are determined to be better ready.

“From very early in my term as councillor I was aware that the LDMG and the North Stradbroke Island community had learnt that more preparation was needed.

“The community always responded during disasters, but the great benefit is in planning ahead. More fuel load reduction, pre-placing equipment, working with all the service providers and emergency services groups.

“I am so very proud of Council, the community and all agencies in the standard of preparation and co-ordination I see now. We are a much safer and resilient community.”

A decade on and Minjerribah has turned one of its darkest times into enlightenment – a lesson in the importance of being prepared and the incredible value they now have through building resilience.

• Images from the massive bushfires 10 years ago!



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