Tag: Mr Allen

‘I couldn’t be more grateful’: Veterans react to unique Anzac Day tribute amid coronavirus pandemic

Beaudesert 4285

After completing two tours in Vietnam and receiving a cold welcome upon returning to Australia, Les Allen knows just how important it is for war veterans, who’ve risked their lives for their country, to feel recognised.

Key points:

  • Indigenous Queensland artist Kim ‘Brolga’ Williams was inspired after coronavirus restrictions meant her other work dried up
  • The Beaudesert RSL sub-branch helped fund the project
  • Local veterans can commemorate Anzac Day from the safety of their own driveway

When all public memorials were cancelled due to coronavirus, the 71-year-old worried veterans would feel forgotten, once again.

But thanks to an unusual project lead by a local artist in his hometown of Beaudesert in South East Queensland, Mr Allen now has a place where he can lay a wreath and stand at attention as the sun rises on April 25, despite not being able to attend his usual public march.

“It’s absolutely awesome, just beautiful,” he said.

Indigenous artist Kim ‘Brolga’ Williams is painting power poles in front of veterans’ driveways with designs to remember those lost, while respecting physical distancing measures.


Artist Kim ‘Brolga’ Williams has family who fought for Australia and is passionate about Anzac Day. (ABC News: Anna Hartley)

“I can remember coming home from Vietnam, being given a loop pass and being told to nick off – that was the welcome home,” Mr Allen said.

“We need recognition and this is a good way of showing it.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to have this outside of the front of the house, it’s something I think needs to be done around the country.

“It will give us veterans the chance to pay our respects.”

Artist’s family connections prompt project

Ms Williams, a proud Kullilli-Wakka-Wakka woman, said the idea started when COVID-19 led to the cancellations of her exhibitions and paid work.

“As an artist I get bored easily, I’ve always got to be doing something,” she said.


Ms Williams painted more than 10 artworks around Beaudesert for Anzac Day. (ABC News: Julie Hornsey)

“So, I thought ‘why not paint the power poles?’.

“In our own family we’ve had family go to war, we’ve lost family in war.

“To me, it’s important to honour our veterans, they did something for us, we’re here because of them.”

It started with Ms Williams simply painting a power pole in her own family’s driveway with Anzac designs with permission from her local energy provider.


A power pole in Beaudesert painted by Kim ‘Brolga’ Williams (ABC News: Anna Hartley)

Her neighbour saw it and wanted one too and soon the local RSL sub-branch heard about her work and asked for more.

“It’s about just giving back to them, it’s not our fault there is a virus here,” Ms Williams said.

“I haven’t forgotten our veterans and I don’t think anyone else has either.”

RSL sub-branch gets behind creative gesture

Beaudesert RSL sub-branch president Carol Castles said members were helping fund expensive paint and equipment so the project could expand.

“We felt that it was a wonderful thing to do especially this year when we won’t be able to have any commemorations officially,” she said.


Beaudesert RSL sub-branch president Carol Castles helped fund the project. (ABC News: Anna Hartley)

“We have a commitment to continue the memory and to make sure the younger people in our community know what our veterans have done.

“It’s a bit sad this year, it’s been hard, so we just hope what we’re doing and what Kim’s doing goes some way towards alleviating that.


Les Allen at last year’s Anzac Day parade, before the coronavirus pandemic. (Supplied)

“The artworks really have the essence of Australia and Anzac Day.”

Ms Williams has more than 10 artworks to complete for veterans before Anzac Day and says she’ll be working hard to make sure they all get done.

Mr Allen said he hoped the artwork would well and truly outlast the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m going to make sure it’s coated so it doesn’t fade,” he said.

“It’s going to be there a long time.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

‘We’ve got no water left so we weren’t able to defend,’ says local after blaze engulfs NSW town

Cobargo 2550

The main street of the Bega Valley town of Cobargo has been devastated by an out-of-control bushfire which has left a father and son dead.

Key points:

  • Cobargo was engulfed by an emergency-level bushfire
  • Residents described how the drought left them with no water to defend their property
  • RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said dozens of buildings had been destroyed and two people were feared dead in the town

Father and son Robert Salway, 63, and Patrick Salway, 29, perished in the blaze, which tore through the Bega Valley town of Cobargo early Tuesday morning.

The pair had stayed behind to defend their property in Wandella, 10 kilometres west of Cobargo, after Robert’s wife — who is also Patrick’s mother — evacuated.

She returned on Tuesday morning and discovered their bodies.


Part of the main street of Cobargo has been flattened by the bushfire. (Supplied.)

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he expected the “significant impact” of the blaze had damaged or destroyed “dozens” of buildings in the historic village.

See how the day unfolded in our blog

Debbie Wilson and Phillip Bragg were on holidays in Cobargo and witnessed the chaos unfolding from their caravan parked behind a local pub.

“I was up at about 3:00am due to all the commotion of people coming and going there,” Ms Wilson said.

The couple tried to evacuate from the area around 5:00am, but were turned around as they drove to Bermagui.

“I was just watching everything burn,” she said.

“All I can see now is a lot of smoke and fire trucks — just a big whoosh of black smoke go up.”

‘You could hear it roaring like the ocean’


Brenda Whiffen watched as the out-of-control blaze consumed her neighbour’s shed. (Supplied: Brenda Whiffen)

Long-term residents Brenda Whiffen and her husband spent the night working to protect their property after embers brought the fire through about 1:00am.

“We came outside and you could see the red glow, but you could hear it roaring, that was the scary bit. You could hear it roaring like the ocean,” she said.

“And it just came so quick, because of the embers. One would start up here and another one would start somewhere else.”

Together the pair saved two homes on the property, about three kilometres from Cobargo’s town centre, but their farmland and other buildings were destroyed.

“I just went round and round watering it, that’s all I knew how to do,” she said.

“We lost the hay shed. Don’t know what we’re going to feed the animals with now.”


What the main street of Cobargo, population 776, looked like before the bushfire. (Supplied: Google Maps)


The main street was engulfed by flames, with dozens more buildings destroyed or damaged. (Supplied)

By late morning, she said they believed the worst was over.

“It’s cool now, we’ve got the southerly change so that might help,” she said.

Ms Whiffen said she was deeply saddened by the damage to the town, particularly the ravaged main street.

“This is our old home town — I’ve lived here since I was six, my husband’s lived here all his life, my kids were reared here,” she said.

‘This is what hell looks like’

Cobargo Hotel owner David Allen said he took matters into his own hands upon seeing how overwhelmed local firefighters were.

“I came back into town and that’s when embers started spot fires everywhere,” he said.

“We got the fire hoses out, the fire brigade guys were flat out and we thought, we’ll just try and save the pub.”

Mr Allen broke down as he described the ferocity of the blaze.

“As someone said, this is what hell looks like, and we saw it last night,” he said.

“It’s just so fast, and that’s what caught people unawares.”

Video: Cobargo in flames after bushfire tears through town

(ABC News)

Mr Allen said that by lunch time, a number of locals and their animals were taking a rest at Cobargo Hotel.

“We’ve had a few people with some burns come through… I think they’ve been taken to the evacuation centre,” he said.

But he couldn’t be sure what the extent of the impact had been on people in the fire’s path.

“To come out of it with no lives lost would be a miracle I think.”

‘We’ve got no water left so we weren’t able to defend’

Susanne Lewington, who owns the Breakfast Creek Vineyard in Bermagui, near Cobargo, was forced to evacuate her property at 5:00am.

She was speaking at a shelter down the road and did not know if the devastation has reached her property.

“It’s very eerie down here, it’s really smoky, there’s ash everywhere,” she said.

“I have no idea if we’ve lost our property. If we have a wind change it could go because we’ve very close to the creek and we’re close to the forest.

“The sky was black, we only got daylight a few hours ago.”

She said the drought had left her property without any significant water bodies that may have helped dampen the blaze.

“There’s not much left on the property, about 100 ducks, four cattle and 10 sheep, that’s all we’ve got left because I had to sell the rest due to the drought,” she said.

“We’ve got not water left so we weren’t able to defend.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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