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Southampton homestead after the fire


After the Fire workshop


By Neville Passmore


The Peel Harvey Catchment Council pulled this workshop together to assist fire- affected famers to get back on their feet again after the disastrous Yarloop- Waroona fires.

Darren J. Doherty from Regrarians Ltd presented most of the sessions for the two-day workshop.  He has been on a farm-planning mission since 1993.  His work has seen him assist farmers in nearly 50 countries to make viable businesses.  Many of the Mediterranean areas he works in, experience similar bushfire challenges to the South West of WA.

As many farms have been have been damaged to varying degrees it is, in many cases, a time to rebuild.  This can offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to plan the entire layout of the property to relook at the water supply and topography as well as the repositioning of fences and internal roadways, to make the farm more efficient in the future. 

One of the first casualties is farm fencing. Darren examined with 18 attendees how to work out the best locations for replacement fences on their own farms. 

Jeff Pow also addressed the group and related how the 2013 Greenbushes’ fire destroyed his farm and the historic Southampton homestead in less than 2 minutes. 

I visited Jeff’s farm a few weeks after the fire and took photos of the devastation.  When I came back a year later I saw the beginnings of what has subsequently turned into, a successful poultry meat business.  Instead of fences, birds are housed in moveable enclosures that allow them to eat fresh grass, scratch the soil, and take dust baths while adding their manure to the soil.  By rotating around the sloping paddock the chickens contribute to regenerating the soil.


Southampton homestead constructed in 1862 destroyed, along with the surrounding farm, in 2013




Follow up workshops are being planned by the Peel Harvey Catchment Council click here to visit their website for updates.

While bushfires are becoming more common and severe in the South West of the state perhaps the most concerning thing is the fact that arsonists deliberately light most.  The Yarloop-Waroona fires of January 2016 took 17 days to bring under control, claimed two lives and almost wiped the small community of Yarloop off the map.  This fire, which threated lives and homes in the Shires of Harvey and Waroona, was started, it is believed by lightening.  It burnt through more than 69,000 hectares and it’s perimeter exceeded 390 kilometres. One hundred and eighty one properties and vast areas of farming land, including prime beef and diary land around Harvey, were adversely affected.

To learn more about preparing before the season click here.