SMOKED OUT: A bushfire burning in the Mt Kelman area.
SMOKED OUT: A bushfire burning in the Mt Kelman area. Trina Patterson Photography

Central Highlands bushfires are still burning

AUSTRALIAN farmers are no strangers to bushfires.

But the recent Queensland bushfires, fed by what was described as unsually hot and dry conditions, were something new entirely.

For some property owners in the Central Highlands, the battle rages on.

Lindsay Tyson and his wife Avriel have been fighting one particular fire on their Springwood property near Rolleston since the beginning of November.

"We had it contained at the time of the big fires of Gracemere, but then that (fire) was throwing stuff out from the inside.

The fire then flared up on the Saturday before Christmas when lightning struck at the neighbouring property, Deepdale.

"There was a dry storm that went through and lit several fires in the area,” Mr Tyson said.

A second fire, near the Tysons' other property, Lenore Hills, spread along the Expedition range, stretching from the Blackdown Tablelands National Park to near Taroom.

"We had to burn all along the (Dawson) highway for 12 to 14 kilometres,” Mr Tyson said.

Mr Tyson said other property owners in the area had offered their assistance to those still battling bushfires.

"Trina Patterson and her husband and son were helping us with our fire on our property,” he said.

"It takes quite a bit of manpower to patrol the length of the break we had.”

The Tyson family are not the only Central Highlands property owners still fighting fires.

Yvonne Fletcher and her husband Jack have been monitoring fires on their Serocold property, near Rolleston, for weeks.

Mrs Fletcher said the fire on her property had been contained, but reignited on Boxing Day.

"Storms came through on the Saturday before Christmas and it must have been a lightning strike that smouldered away and then flared up,” she said.

"Everybody was out on their dozers and opened up fire breaks.

"Essentially, we just waited until it (the fire) got close to the breaks.

"As they approached the breaks, we back burned.”

While this kind of constant anxiety might sound daunting to some, Mrs Fletcher said it was just "one of those things you have to live with”.

"It's just life, really. It's just been very annoying because you can't relax,” she said.

"Our fire wasn't as dangerous as theirs (the Tysons). Ours was really just a thorn in our side.”

Mrs Fletcher said in the current hot, dry conditions, it only took "one whirly wind” to take a fire across breaks.

"We had another (fire) jump the break at Nyanda (a neighbouring property) this past Saturday.

"It jumped the main road. We got there pretty quick and got the spot fires out.

"It caught us a bit by surprise. We did a fair bit of back burning on Saturday night, so hopefully it's all good.”

Like the Tysons, Mrs Fletcher said shealso received help from other property owners.

"We've had one neighbour that came and gave us a bit of a hand,” she said.

Mrs Fletcher said while the fire had largely burnt out now, it would continue to smoulder until the region received some rain.

Community comes together to fight fire

FIERY: Bushland on fire in the Mt Kelman area.
FIERY: Bushland on fire in the Mt Kelman area. Trina Patterson Photography

WITH no bushfires of their own to fight during the recent Queensland bushfires, one Central Highlands family reached out to others in their time of need.

Trina Patterson, her husband Tim and their son Lochie went to the aid of the Tyson family over the Christmas period when a fire started on their Springwood property.

Mrs Patterson, who is the secretary for Meteor Creek Rural Fire Brigade, said the Springwood fire was difficult to deal with because it started in "inaccessible timber country”.

However, the community rallied together, which Mrs Patterson said was wonderful to see.

"Everyone turned up to help out and to volunteer their time and local expertise,” she said.

"Some of the volunteers have attended many fires in this part of the country and the experience that they have is greatly appreciated by everyone involved.”

Mrs Patterson said bushfire containment and control was "just another job” which rural property owners had to find the time for.

"You just have to wait and watch. It's just another stress,” she said.

"Property owners need to check their fire breaks and check any trees that have fallen down.

"Nothing will really be safe until we get a few inches of beautiful rain.”

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