Displaced Woodgate residents gather near Kinkuna Waters.
Displaced Woodgate residents gather near Kinkuna Waters.

Frustrated resident demands more information

EMOTION was running high yesterday as the devastating bushfire traumatised the Woodgate community.

Many residents who are separated from pets and loved ones, fearful of the damage that awaits them on the other side are frustrated by the waiting game of “not knowing”.

Graham Tonkin moved to Woodgate three years ago with his wife because they enjoyed the calm, friendly and peaceful atmosphere that the small town offers.

Graham Tonkin waits it out.
Graham Tonkin waits it out.

But when Mr Tonkin and his wife drove into town on Wednesday afternoon to pick up some store supplies, the roads were deemed too dangerous and closed before they could return.

Determined to retrieve their beloved pet dog who is still at their Woodgate home, the couple chose to sleep in their car at the roadblock, where they remained yesterday

“We could have gone into Childers and stayed in the shelters but we are private people and are a bit embarrassed about our snoring too,” Mr Tonkin said.

“But when we’re told that we can go back in to Woodgate in three or four hours time and 24 hours later, we’re still not allowed to go in there …”

Caravans leaving Woodgate as bushfires disrupt access to the coastal township.
Caravans leaving Woodgate as bushfires disrupt access to the coastal township.

Mr Tonkin said the situation was frustrating.

“I’m feeling pretty annoyed about the entire set up and because we can’t get any information, radio reports are six hours old, the weather forecast last night was supposed to be westerly and it was supposed to blow over Woodgate which is why we weren’t allowed in, but we slept out in it last night and there wasn’t one breath of a breeze,” Mr Tonkin said.

“We can’t communicate with any of our neighbours because the power is out and no one can charge their phones.

“Any communication we had yesterday, which was one message virtually said ‘what fire?’ and if it’s already burnt, the worst is done, it can’t burn anymore so why are we still here?”

Some locals impacted by the disaster said they believed the event was completely preventable.

“Maybe it’s about time we kept a little bit of money in Australia to build ourselves water facilities and dams and we need to look at looking after our national parks properly and clear a path so that if a fire starts, it can’t go any further,” Mr Tonkin said.

“Everybody here knows back burning and clearing would help and if people are worried about wildlife, insects and bushlife getting hurt … well go and take a look at them now after the fire has destroyed the whole lot instead of half of it.”