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BLAZEAID - HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP

WORDS JULIETTE REMFREY, IMAGES VARIOUS

GUIDE BlazeAid – Part 2

What you would typically do at a BlazeAid camp

While no two camps are the same, BlazeAid volunteers go out in teams to work with property owners typically to clear debris, damaged and fallen trees, remove fences and install new fences. In most cases the property owner supplies all materials and BlazeAid supplies the volunteers and tools, however, through BlazeAid’s ‘Post and Wire Program’ in-kind donations of fencing materials are provided to the most needy. BlazeAid volunteers are covered by Volunteer Insurance and Public Liability Insurance while working in the field.

RV tourers come from a variety of backgrounds, and many have worked on the land, bringing skills including towing, off-road driving, chainsaw, general handyman, welding and machinery operating skills. Vehicles with high towing capacities (3.5 tonnes) are always needed to tow BlazeAid trailers. But a successful BlazeAid basecamp also needs good administrators, people to cook and clean, and people who can run errands. Not every task that needs to be done is overly physical and just for the fit and healthy.

Volunteers generally go out seven days a week, and BlazeAid suggests 1-2 days off to rest per week.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Images credit: Monique Satchell

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WHO CAN DO IT
If you’re between 18-85 years-old (and 12-18 years-old supervised by an adult) – you are needed. Many long-term volunteers are in their 50s and 60s. In fact, whole communities have formed about volunteering from your RV. The Facebook group BlazeAid Grey Nomads’ has amassed more than 2100 members (grey and otherwise) and provides a communication tool for volunteers where they share plenty of inspiration on how you can become involved and speak proudly about how rewarding the experience can be.

You don’t need to have planned too far in advance, just give the Camp Coordinator a call a few days beforehand to discuss any disabilities or medical conditions and to let them know when you’ll be attending so space can be found for your rig and you’ll be catered for.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Trevor Ryan

Image credit: Monique Satchell

“You’ll get to work alongside people from all different walks of life, and from all over Australia (and sometimes the world), so it’s a great time to forge new friendships and memories.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING
First and foremost, bring yourself and a positive and generous attitude. You are going to see some genuine suffering and heartbreak and sometimes the families and individuals just need someone to listen. You’ll get to work alongside people from all different walks of life, and from all over Australia (and sometimes the world), so it’s a great time to forge new friendships and memories.

Second, your RV and whatever you need to keep yourself comfortable for the duration of your stay. Don’t forget to pack sensible clothes for field work including long pants, long sleeved tops, sturdy work boots and a big hat. Also, make sure your Australia-wide ambulance cover and tetanus vaccine are up-to-date.

While BlazeAid generally supplies the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), this fire season they have run out of some items (i.e. wire cutters, riggers gloves, etc.) at some camps. Occasionally, BlazeAid will put out a call for non-perishable food items, storage containers and toiletries when towns may not be able to supply. It is best to check directly with the Camp Coordinator to see if you need to bring any of your own gear. Don’t forget to bring some money to spend in the local towns.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Monique Satchell

WHAT’S STOPPING YOU FROM JOINING IN?
As I’ve briefly touched on, not all jobs are physical, and it’s best to check with the Camp Coordinator directly on what tasks you might be able to do. If you’re worried about a pet, you will need to check with the Camp Coordinator about whether you can bring your pet or not as some basecamps will allow sociable dogs.

Donations of money and in-kind goods to the charitable organisations of your choosing go a long way to supporting people and wildlife on the road to recovery. There are other worthy causes you can also get involved in while touring if you’re unable to help physically or with money, such as crafting wildlife pouches: Crafters unite or Sew much easier.

Image credit: Trevor Ryan

Image credit: Christina Doherty

DON’T FORGET TO BE A TOURIST AGAIN!
As we’ve seen this fire season, most tourists have sensibly heeded warnings to stay out of fire-affected areas, but once the threat has passed and the roads have re-opened it’s time to go with empty eskies, buy their products, stay in their accommodation and enjoy their hospitality again. Lakes Entrance in Victoria is one such example, normally popular with holidaymakers at this time of year. The fires have passed but tourists have stayed away (Read more here).

Other areas normally bustling with activity over the summer period have been transformed into ghost towns as tourists took warnings about East Gippsland to mean stay away from all of Gippsland. The pretty little Gippsland town of Walhalla, nestled in West Gippsland and unaffected this fire season, put out desperate pleas to come back: Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism Association and WIN News.

Walhalla is one of my favourite places in Victoria. We heard their desperate cries and organised to tour through Erica, Rawson and Walhalla to spend money in the towns and donate money to BlazeAid. Below is a video of our arrival into Walhalla. If you’ve never been, it should be on your bucket list!

Many other groups are organising similar convoys, but this needs ongoing effort from everyone. Support rural towns and the farmers that grow your food by being a tourist again and let’s help these communities survive into the future.

Image credit: Juliette Remfrey

Image credit: Josh Cheong

Image credit: Josh Cheong

GUIDE BlazeAid – Part 2

BLAZEAID - HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP

WORDS JULIETTE REMFREY, IMAGES VARIOUS

What you would typically do at a BlazeAid camp

While no two camps are the same, BlazeAid volunteers go out in teams to work with property owners typically to clear debris, damaged and fallen trees, remove fences and install new fences. In most cases the property owner supplies all materials and BlazeAid supplies the volunteers and tools, however, through BlazeAid’s ‘Post and Wire Program’ in-kind donations of fencing materials are provided to the most needy. BlazeAid volunteers are covered by Volunteer Insurance and Public Liability Insurance while working in the field.

RV tourers come from a variety of backgrounds, and many have worked on the land, bringing skills including towing, off-road driving, chainsaw, general handyman, welding and machinery operating skills. Vehicles with high towing capacities (3.5 tonnes) are always needed to tow BlazeAid trailers. But a successful BlazeAid basecamp also needs good administrators, people to cook and clean, and people who can run errands. Not every task that needs to be done is overly physical and just for the fit and healthy.

Volunteers generally go out seven days a week, and BlazeAid suggests 1-2 days off to rest per week.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Images credit: Monique Satchell

TRANSFORM YOUR LIFESTYLE
WITH THE ULTIMATE
FAMILY SLIDE OUT

SEE THE TRANSFORMER  

Australia’s most luxurious slide out caravans

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

WHO CAN DO IT
If you’re between 18-85 years-old (and 12-18 years-old supervised by an adult) – you are needed. Many long-term volunteers are in their 50s and 60s. In fact, whole communities have formed about volunteering from your RV. The Facebook group BlazeAid Grey Nomads’ has amassed more than 2100 members (grey and otherwise) and provides a communication tool for volunteers where they share plenty of inspiration on how you can become involved and speak proudly about how rewarding the experience can be.

You don’t need to have planned too far in advance, just give the Camp Coordinator a call a few days beforehand to discuss any disabilities or medical conditions and to let them know when you’ll be attending so space can be found for your rig and you’ll be catered for.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Trevor Ryan

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

“You’ll get to work alongside people from all different walks of life, and from all over Australia (and sometimes the world), so it’s a great time to forge new friendships and memories.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING
First and foremost, bring yourself and a positive and generous attitude. You are going to see some genuine suffering and heartbreak and sometimes the families and individuals just need someone to listen. You’ll get to work alongside people from all different walks of life, and from all over Australia (and sometimes the world), so it’s a great time to forge new friendships and memories.

Second, your RV and whatever you need to keep yourself comfortable for the duration of your stay. Don’t forget to pack sensible clothes for field work including long pants, long sleeved tops, sturdy work boots and a big hat. Also, make sure your Australia-wide ambulance cover and tetanus vaccine are up-to-date.

While BlazeAid generally supplies the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), this fire season they have run out of some items (i.e. wire cutters, riggers gloves, etc.) at some camps. Occasionally, BlazeAid will put out a call for non-perishable food items, storage containers and toiletries when towns may not be able to supply. It is best to check directly with the Camp Coordinator to see if you need to bring any of your own gear. Don’t forget to bring some money to spend in the local towns.

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Monique Satchell

Image credit: Monique Satchell

WHAT’S STOPPING YOU FROM JOINING IN?
As I’ve briefly touched on, not all jobs are physical, and it’s best to check with the Camp Coordinator directly on what tasks you might be able to do. If you’re worried about a pet, you will need to check with the Camp Coordinator about whether you can bring your pet or not as some basecamps will allow sociable dogs.

Donations of money and in-kind goods to the charitable organisations of your choosing go a long way to supporting people and wildlife on the road to recovery. There are other worthy causes you can also get involved in while touring if you’re unable to help physically or with money, such as crafting wildlife pouches: Crafters unite or Sew much easier.

Image credit: Trevor Ryan

Image credit: Christina Doherty

DON’T FORGET TO BE A TOURIST AGAIN!
As we’ve seen this fire season, most tourists have sensibly heeded warnings to stay out of fire-affected areas, but once the threat has passed and the roads have re-opened it’s time to go with empty eskies, buy their products, stay in their accommodation and enjoy their hospitality again. Lakes Entrance in Victoria is one such example, normally popular with holidaymakers at this time of year. The fires have passed but tourists have stayed away (Read more here).

Other areas normally bustling with activity over the summer period have been transformed into ghost towns as tourists took warnings about East Gippsland to mean stay away from all of Gippsland. The pretty little Gippsland town of Walhalla, nestled in West Gippsland and unaffected this fire season, put out desperate pleas to come back: Walhalla & Mountain Rivers Tourism Association and WIN News.

Walhalla is one of my favourite places in Victoria. We heard their desperate cries and organised to tour through Erica, Rawson and Walhalla to spend money in the towns and donate money to BlazeAid. Below is a video of our arrival into Walhalla. If you’ve never been, it should be on your bucket list!

Many other groups are organising similar convoys, but this needs ongoing effort from everyone. Support rural towns and the farmers that grow your food by being a tourist again and let’s help these communities survive into the future.

Image credit: Juliette Remfrey

Image credit: Josh Cheong

Image credit: Josh Cheong