• Tony Bosworth

Bilpin residents in joyful Fire Recovery Dance to celebrate anniversary of bush fire survival

Bilpin residents have got together to dance in celebration of their survival, one year on from the backburn bushfire that burnt out Bilpin District.

The out of control RFS backburn hit Mt Tomah and Berambing with little warning at 4.30pm on December 15, burning down houses, orchards, fences and outbuildings. The fire menaced the Bilpin & Kurrajong District for over three weeks. There were mixed emotions as locals gathered on Tuesday to recall their fire stories of the heat melting pumps and water pipes, the race to fix these problems and restore water pressure so "the bloody fire could be put out". Dance organiser Kooryn Sheaves said "the silver lining in this catastrophic event has been the reinforcing of community ties. Neighbours helped each other with homemade fire trucks as the fire spread, with locals making and patrolling fire containment lines and racing to wherever there was a breach to put the fire out.

Ms Sheaves told people at the dance celebration event at Chapel Hill, Berambing, "we've been able to keep going because we know each other. We have been able to share the laughs and tears, our our fears and our good times with those people immediately around us."

This comradery continued after the fires with the clean up and then through the COVID pandemic, It was boosted by the support received from Sydneysiders who rallied to support the Back to Bilpin campaign. "So all in all we think we are incredibly lucky. We have been able to lean on each other and call for help when needed," said Ms Sheaves. "We are sending a big thank you to everyone and shout out to other fire affected communities that we are thinking of you on your first anniversary. "So give us a shout if you need any help. And here is our "strong song" to you and if you can send us your song or pictures or anything to let us know how you are doing - we are thinking of you."

There will be another survival dance celebration on Monday December 21 at Kurrajong Heights Bowling Club at 4pm to 7pm to mark the day fire tore through properties either side of Bells Line of Road.

Check out the video here: https://fb.watch/2pII1WOO7u/

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