Daryl Walker, from the Maldon Vintage Machinery and Museum, has spent months putting together a tribute to those that lost their lives in the Ash Wednesday fires on 16 February 1983. The exhibition, consisting of newspaper articles and photographs, is informative and moving.
Daryl, a member of the CFA for 60 years, is a wealth of information about the events that took place and the lives that were lost in the fires, both from research and personal experience. Living in Kerang in 1983, Daryl and his crew were sent to the Macedon fires to provide much-needed support.
“We were there for three and a half days. We barely slept the whole time. It was pretty horrific. There were…bodies,” Daryl told the Times. “When we were travelling from Woodend to Macedon, the fire went right across the road in front of us, about one kilometre away.”
The national toll in Victoria and South Australia was: 72 people deceased, 2,000 plus homes burnt, 335,000 sheep and 18,000 cattle lost.
Thirteen CFA members lost their lives to the fires.
In Macedon, where Daryl attended, eight people died, and 399 homes were lost.
“It was just horrific to hear it roaring through. It was up around the 40-degree mark that day, and it’d been a dry year.
“One of the only buildings to survive was the hotel, which was the place of last resort for the town-folk. How the place didn’t go up, I’ll never know. Even the Macedon Fire Station went, plus the volunteers’ cars and everything else.”
The exhibition is located at the Maldon Vintage Machinery Museum on Vincents Road: Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am- 3pm until the end of the month.
This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 25 February 2022.