On the weekend of Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of March the Rotary Club of Glenferrie organised a team of members, partners and friends to drive to East Gippsland to help clean up the mess at Sarsfield left after the devastating bushfires. President Thelma, who was previously a member of the Rotary Club of Bairnsdale Sunrise, had local knowledge of the area so organised work sites for both days. Community Service Director Don Heath took on the role of organising volunteers for the work party, keeping them informed of our plans via email updates.
Thelma liaised with Bernie Farquhar from the Mitchell River Rotary club and the EGRFA (East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid) committee to plan our involvement in clean-up working bees. They were certainly very grateful for our offer to help to lighten their workload. Their members are run off their feet with clean-up working bees every weekend so he also asked us to manage the Car Parking and a BBQ on the Sunday for their annual Opera by the Lakes at Nyerimilang Heritage Park.
Club members responded quickly and we soon had a work party of fifteen.
Members: Carol, David, Don H. Robert H. Thelma, Alex, Cheryl, Ian & Charles.
Partners/Friends: Glenis, Miffy, Andrew, Peter Hogan, Annie Treasure and Jeff Patchell.
President Thelma & Andrew – devastation                               Our RC Glenferrie Work Team
Our itinerary was as follows:
Friday 13th March 2020
For the 8 people driving to Lakes Entrance on the Friday afternoon President Thelma arranged a special treat. They visited Gracemere garden which features a drought resistant garden designed by Jenny Robertson (our Guest Speaker recently) and her husband Rick Robertson. The garden featured in the Open Gardens scheme a few years ago and is located in Aitkens Road, Bengworden. The Bairnsdale Sunrise Rotary Club provided afternoon tea.
Saturday 14th March
Bernie Farquhar (Mitchell River Rotary Club) asked us all to work together on a 40-hectare flower farm/nursery/orchard that was mostly burnt out, including their house, car, tractor and all but one shed. It was a devastating sight. Both the Saturday am team of 8 and the Saturday pm team of 7 were directed to meet at the nursery at Swift Lane, Sarsfield. Thelma arranged for the Bairnsdale Sunrise Rotary Club to bring our lunch direct to the nursery. One shed with power was not burnt down so we had tea and coffee available.
The owners Milusa and Kevin Giles were there to work with us. Bernie brought a trailer and was there to allocate jobs and help us. He had some tools but asked us if we could bring one hand tool per person. This included: secateurs, pliers, wire-cutters, shifters, hammers, rakes, shovels etc.
Jobs that we undertook were:
  • dismantling of a burnt-out swimming pool.
  • Kevin and Paul cut up burnt trees with a chainsaw and we stacked firewood and carried branches to a big pile to be burnt later on.
  • Cleaning up debris into the trailer or skip.
  • Cleaning up the front garden
  • Dismantling burnt out fencing
  • and anything else that they needed. 
     Alex stacking burnt trees                                    Alex, Don, Ian, Jeff & Charles dismantling pool
Saturday 14th March
That evening we held a Club dinner at the Central Hotel in Lakes Entrance. We were joined by several members of the East Gippsland Cluster of Rotary Clubs, which is made up of Bairnsdale, Bairnsdale Sunrise, Mitchell River, Lakes Entrance and Orbost. It was good to hear about the massive amount of bushfire clean-up work that their Clubs have been doing since the start of January. We were very pleased that we were able help them with this work.
Sunday 15th March
Our A-team of 7 returned to the Nursery in Sarsfield to complete the clean-up and then moved to a neighbouring property where they followed the Rotarians with chainsaws to carry firewood to a heap and carry branches to a pile for later burning. This was hard work but certainly very rewarding.    
          Ian cleaning up burnt trees                                              Devastation
Sunday 15th March
Our B-team of 8 drove out to Nyerimilang Heritage Park where the annual Opera by the Lakes was being staged. We managed the Car Parking and the BBQ for the Mitchell River Rotary Club with all profit going to the East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid committee to support the wonderful work that Rotary is doing in this area.
          Glenis, Cheryl, Terry White (RCMR) & Don at BBQ
To our Bushfire Relief team - thank you all very much for the amazing work that you did over our weekend in East Gippsland. We were delighted with the amount of work done by our team and that made it so very worthwhile. We know that Kevin and Milusa were very grateful for the clean-up work that we did at their nursery. The Mitchell River Rotarians also appreciated that we took over the BBQ and Car Parking at the Opera to give them a break from the clean-up work that they are doing and the support that they are giving to the bushfire victims.
The fact that you were prepared to give two days of work and absorb the cost of the travel and accommodation was a very significant donation to those who suffered the devastation of losing everything. We also enjoyed the visit to Gracemere garden and the dinner with the East Gippsland Rotary Cluster at the Central Hotel. The whole weekend has strengthened 
the ties between us as members of the Rotary Club of Glenferrie and certainly contributed to our Rotary Ideal of “Service above Self”. Thank you all very much for your valuable contribution.
Don Heath
Community Service Director
Rotary Club of Glenferrie