MOUNT Torrens, SA, dairy farmer Rick Gladigau was helping neighbours fight the Cudlee Creek fire in January 2020 when it swung back towards his unmanned property.
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Rick Gladigau, Mount Torrens, SA, lost a lot of his revegetation and fencing after the 2020 Cudlee Creek fire, but was thankful for the support he received.

“It was the first big fire I have actually had on the property and I’ve been here since 1993,” he said.

“Everything was ripe to happen, it was a matter of when, not if.

“It was pretty bare here because we had a dry season so there wasn’t a stack of feed in the paddocks, which at the end of the day, worked in my favour.”

Mr Gladigau said two years on, the fire path was still visible.

“It burnt really hard into Charleston Conservation Park – it roared through there,” he said.

“You see the wattles coming up now and they are like hairs on a cats back.”

Mr Gladigau lost a lot of his revegetation and fencing, but was thankful for the support he received.

“We were really lucky because DairySA were right onto it,” he said.

“Nearly every dairy farmer got burnt in some way, so DairySA organised for us to all just get together where we just sat around and talked about it.

“Hearing everyone else’s stories, you don’t think of how much a tree means to some people, but when it’s the aesthetics of their farm and it’s no longer there, it affects them.

“Those sorts of support networks helped alleviate the trauma that occurred, because you realise you are not alone.”

Mr Gladigau said everyone touched by the fire was affected and some people needed to talk more than others.

“As a dairy group, we all got together and had that initial chat where we were then offered support accordingly,” he said.

“It was discussions on fertiliser and feed for the coming year, which you weren’t thinking about yet.

“As the dairy industry, I think we did that really well to have monthly support network meetings. The support side of it, post-fire, is a must as it makes a huge difference to recovery.”

Warrnambool dairy farmer Bernie Free has emerged as the new UDV president, following a torrid year for the dairy body which has seen an exodus of members to join a breakaway representative body.

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