Rain records continue

Rain records continue

In early January, Bairnsdale Advertiser rainfall contributor of 20 years, Alan Stickland of Sarsfield, rang in with his weekly rain total.

“My rain gauge is still standing but my house isn’t,” Mr Stickland said.

“We’re staying near Lucknow, do you want the rainfall for Lucknow too?”

Mr Stickland and his wife Pauline used to live at Cousins Court, Sarsfield.

Their attitude to losing much of their life’s records and house in the bushfire is admirable. 

“It was our dream home,” Mrs Stickland said.

“It’s gone, oh well.”   

Mr Stickland is actually a long-time rainfall recorder, previously ringing in the rainfall from Upwey, in the Dandenong Ranges, for Melbourne Water.

The couple moved to Sarsfield in 2000, ironically leaving Upwey because of the constant threat of bushfires in the region.

“It took us another 20 years to get one,” Mr Stickland said with a smile.

The rain gauge they brought with them is now 30 years old and resides at Lucknow, while the Sarsfied rain gauge was rescued from its charred vantage point and resurrected on the new back fence.

“I keep rain records just out of interest but all my rain records are gone.

“We got out with a car and a caravan.” Remembering the day the fire came through is as clear as day for them.

“It’s something I don’t ever want to go through again,” Mrs Stickland said.

“They turned our water off at lunchtime. And they didn’t turn it back on until two days later.”

The couple drove out their gate at 9.30pm on December 30, effectively running the gauntlet as the fire to the north gained speed and “took out two houses in the blink of an eye” across the road.

Even though the fire was to the north, large embers flew over the property and started a fire on the southern side.

It seemed as though that fire was on a mission to destroy the house, burning through the back fence, underneath the tinnie on the trailer, wreaking havoc on the vegetable garden fence and melting a plastic wheelbarrow on its way to demolishing the house.

It also melted a plastic tank that started to leak and evidently saved the house next door.

When the Sticklands returned, the rain gauge still sat on its post despite the rest of the veggie garden fence being ruined, the tinnie, the shed, the wood shed and all the wood were still there, as was the white plastic chair nearby.

And of the 20 fruit trees they had, they think six to eight may survive.

“It will be interesting to see what lives come spring,” he said.

Initially the couple stayed at the Lucknow Football Club grounds in their caravan, before renting a house nearby.

Just last week the Sticklands’ new house was delivered to Phillips Lane, Broadlands.

“We’re old. The acre and a half at Sarsfield was getting beyond us, we’ve decided to downsize quite considerably,” Mr Stickland said.

They plan to sell their property eventually but for now are still waiting on Grocon to finish the cleanup of the site where their house stood.

Unfortunately it rained while they were cleaning up and the soil was dug up and taken away leaving a hole that needs refilling.

The two-metre deep hole has only been partially filled since.   

Fortunately this past week, welcome rain has graced gauges across East Gippsland. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the week ending at 9am on Monday, Bullumwaal received 43mm; Glenaladale 69mm; Omeo 13mm and Bairnsdale 29mm.
Local contributors from Meerlieu, Genoa, Buchan East and Marlo recorded the following for the week respectively: 16.2mm; 29.5mm; 11.5mm and 19mm.
The Sticklands recorded 23.5mm at Sarsfield and 24mm at Lucknow.

IMAGE: Advertiser rainfall contributor, Alan Stickland, with his 20-year-old rain gauge that survived the bushfire at his Sarsfield property. His home, situated directly behind him, didn’t survive the fire, while the Australian Magnolia in the background has two to three leaves on it as it begins to make a comeback. K356-3036