Yarloop a ‘phoenix’ from ashes

Sam GibbsHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Harvey shire deputy president Paul Beech at the Yarloop memorial opposite the new rebuilt fire station.
Camera IconWaroona shire president Mike Walmsley, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Harvey shire deputy president Paul Beech at the Yarloop memorial opposite the new rebuilt fire station. Credit: Picture: Sam Gibbs, Sam Gibbs.

Three years on from the devastating 2016 bushfires, Harvey shire deputy president Paul Beech has likened the rebuilding of Yarloop, and the resilience of its people, as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

“I’m a little bit loathe to use the word the phoenix rising from the ashes but I guess that’s what is happening, the resilience of the Yarloop people has shone through,” Cr Beech said.

“The Yarloop people will never, ever forget what happened three years ago and it’s one of those moments in time when everybody will remember where they were.

“It didn’t matter if you were in Yarloop or like myself in Harvey, you will remember the exact moment that you heard we’d lost Yarloop.”

Cr Beech said the council was in the concept stages of developing a plan for rebuilding the Yarloop Workshops and hoped to use the footprints of the old buildings.

“We’re never going to recreate the heritage that we’ve lost unfortunately, but we hope we’ll have a very good representation of what the workshops were, why they were there and what they represent,” Cr Beech said.

Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said it was great to see facilities such as the Yarloop Fire Station and Yarloop Primary School rebuilt and thriving but there was still more work to be done.

“The town’s coming back... to drive through and see all the new houses is fantastic,” Mrs Clarke said.

“I’d like to see so much more happen to the town because there’s just so much more to be done, I want to see the pub come back, I want to see the general store reopened.

“The school is going from strength to strength from 20-odd kids to close to 50 children, and at their last graduation there was something like 20 or 30 little toddlers running around and that’s the future of Yarloop.”

Mrs Clarke said it was inspiring to see the mateship on display when fire brigades from across the region gathered in Yarloop for the drive through town.

“It is a family, whether people accept it or not, the volunteers in this entire region, and I think it spreads anywhere, when there’s a disaster it brings out the best in people,” she said.

“But what happens after the disaster is finished, those friendships are bonded for life so it’s just a great thing to be part of.”

Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley said he believed most people had moved on, especially in the farming community.

“I guess one thing that people are still apprehensive about is every time there’s a puff of smoke, straight away there’s that memory,” Cr Walmsley said.

“I’m still very appreciative of the wonderful support the whole State gave us in our time of need, especially the agricultural side of it.

“Those memories will never fade, just that support and all the agencies that came together to help, that was a really special time for us.”

Mr Walmsley said there would likely be ongoing issues with vegetation regrowth, particularly larger species of trees.

“I back onto a couple of reserves that were really heavily impacted, it’s just a different forest out there, it’s going to be for the next 50 years probably, it just got cooked,” Mr Walmsley said.

“I think everything’s sort of settled down and touch-wood we’ve had a couple of fairly mild summers.”

Mr Walmsley said Waroona shire rangers were still having issues in the townsite with non-compliance in making properties safe for bushfire season but the agricultural areas were generally prepared.

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