After leaving Corryong we travelled across to Batemans Bay and continued on down the coast to Mallacoota and East Gippsland before coming home. When we left home the Covid-19 virus was in the early stages but things have escalated quickly to the point where we were becoming concerned about using public facilities, so it's a relief to be home again.
We bush camped most of the time and enjoyed the solitude.
The rain which followed after the bushfires has allowed the countryside to recover and it was lovely to see so many areas of green.
There are still lots of reminders of the fires, such as burnt road signs.
Prior to our trip I had heard that Cudgewa and Batlow were wiped out so it was good to visit them and see that this wasn't the case. About 4 of the 35 or so houses in Cudgewa were burnt so most of the homes lost must be surrounding farm properties. It was the same at Batlow as the town itself was relatively unscathed but there were homes burned down in the surrounding areas.
Mallacoota township was probably the most visibly affected as Batemans Bay homes which burnt, while there were many, weren't readily visible in amongst the areas of bush.
There are a lot of road crews clearing wider areas beside the highway and they are burning off destroyed trees to clear the areas for future fires.
I had arranged to visit 2 more primary schools to deliver quilts but we will have to postpone those for now to comply with restrictions due to Covid-19. Many of the fire affected areas still aren't ready to receive quilts and there is no urgency now as these are " comfort gifts" and not bedding. I had heard from Mallacoota school that they don't want quilts as they have nowhere to store them and I have told them I will contact them in some months time when they are further along in their recovery. I also heard from my contact there that they don't want quilts and they had actually received some unsolicited quilts and didn't know what to do with them, so put them in the Op Shop for sale. I asked a friend to check and she confirmed that the quilts were there for sale. We were unable to buy them back as they have closed the Op Shops because of the virus.
I have also heard similar stories about other groups who donated quilts to the Red Cross for distribution and they were sold in Red Cross shops for $10 each. That is why I spend so much time making local contacts before distribution, so I can be sure that the quilts go where we intend. I can guarantee that Oz Comfort Quilts will be distributing quilts to the bushfire affected areas as intended. However, sadly due to Covid-19 virus restrictions, we need to place the quilts in storage until things settle down.
In the meantime I would request that you hold onto your finished quilts for now so we don't live in a quilt factory for months. I'm happy to accept tops needing quilting or blocks requiring finishing as our DD will be staying home to look after the boys and I will be able to devote my time to quilting full time again.
We were relieved to be home but I feel more tired now than when we left, probably due to trying to organize things so we can isolate at home and I am also trying to arrange grocery deliveries before the family return home. I'm planning on a few quieter days and then will be busy quilting again to clear some of the donated tops.
It's a bit sad not to be able to continue distributing quilts but it would be irresponsible to continue at the moment. Please stay safe everyone and isolate at home as much as possible. Having had chronic fatigue syndrome for 9 years a while ago, as well as a predisposition to chest infections, I am going to stay home and sew. If you have tops or blocks to donate, could you please post them or hold onto them for now.
I will enjoy some time sewing and trying to take my mind off things that I have no control over.
Hugs, Jan Mac