SIX months after a bush fire ripped through the far south coast town of Tathra, destroying more than 80 houses, a vintage market and car show and shine has given notice that the town is up, running and ready for a bumper summer.
Shiny cars and quirky stalls were gathered at the Tathra Country Club with a background of rockabilly music and backdrop of burnt forest just metres away.
For show and shine organiser Anthony Dack and wife Kathy, their part of the event marked a new beginning after losing their home in the fire. “We were in Canberra on the day of the fire,” Mrs Dack recalled. “I got a phone call to tell us what was happening and drove back to Tathra with no idea of what we would find.
“As it turned out, there was very little left to find. Our house was gone – along with the houses of many of our friends. It was very, very confronting. Our son managed to get the car and caravan out before things got really rough,” said Mr Dack, “so having it on show today is pretty special”.
The vehicle is an immaculately presented 1959 FC Holden station wagon with a caravan of similar vintage attached.
In contrast to the experience of the Dack family, local builder Tony Rettke’s home escaped the blaze.
“For us it’s been a really emotional time too though,” he said. “Like a lot of other people, we weren’t at home when the fire arrived and until late on the Sunday night we had no idea if we had a home to come back to or not.
“When we finally discovered that only our back yard had been burnt there was an amazing sense of relief, but that was matched by horror of a different kind.
“As it turned out, the houses directly opposite us were gone. There have been so many mixed emotions about that. We’re still asking how come our place was by-passed? For a while there was a kind of guilt attached and my wife still has moments of overwhelming emotion when thinking about the totally random nature of it all,” said Mr Rettke.
Both the Dack and Rettke families have a new appreciation for their community.
“The Bega Valley Shire has been amazing,” said Mr Dack, “they’ve reduced the development application processing time from eight weeks to about eight days”.