News State Victoria News Community rallies for those who ‘lost it all’
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Community rallies for those who ‘lost it all’

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The devastation along the Great Ocean Road has lead to an outpouring of support from the wider community, with people offering their homes and suggesting ways to donate in order to help those who have lost everything.

The coastal towns of Wye River and Separation Creek face a long road to recovery after bushfires ripped through on Christmas Day, destroying 116 homes.

Many people in the Surf Coast area have been using social media and local community groups to offer beds and supplies to those affected.

Fires prompt Falls Festival venue switch
116 homes lost in Great Ocean Road blaze
• Victorian bushfires aftermath

The mayor of the Colac-Otways Shire said so many people offered up their houses to those who evacuated their communities on Christmas Day, they had more spare beds than evacuees.

A destroyed building on Durimbil Ave, Wye River. Image: Tom Jacobs
A destroyed building on Durimbil Ave, Wye River. Photo: Twitter/Tom Jacobs

David Manifold from Camperdown, about 30 minutes north of the affected area, offered up vacant farmhouses to those who had lost everything.

“Normally they’d be rented out but because of the downfall in the rural area people move away,” he said.

“We’re not too far north from the fires, we’ve got vacant houses, people have lost their homes so we thought we’d offer them up.”

Mr Manifold is the captain of his local fire brigade, but said misfortune meant he was unable to help battle the Otway blaze.

He said this was his “little bit” of support.

“I work on the theory that if it happened to me, I’d like to think there would be people who could back me up,” he said.

Surf Coast Shire councillor Clive Goldsworthy said a campaign was also underway to help raise much needed funds.

“We have a charitable foundation called the Spirit Foundation which was set up by a group of senior people in Lorne in 2013 to specifically help locals in need,” he said.

“We see this as part of Lorne community. We dodged the bullet and unfortunately Wye River and Separation Creek didn’t.

“We see this as a way that we’re able to implement this straight away because we have the structure in place, we have the bank account details all set up ready to go so we’re now just looking for support across the broader community.”

Festival-goers push fundraising efforts

There have also been suggestions on the Falls Festival Facebook page for a small donation from attendees to help the recovery effort.

Wye River fire damage
Damage to homes at Wye River in the Great Ocean Road fire. Photo: ABC

The event usually takes place near Lorne, but has been moved to a winery near Torquay due to safety concerns.

“I think all people attending should make a gold coin donation for the people of Wye river and Lorne to help get them back on the feet, every little bit helps guys!!!” Brett Davies wrote.

Danielle Taferner said: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the festival organisers could donate some of the money made to those that have lost their homes, belongings, livelihoods and memories? Wouldn’t that be really commendable in the typical true Aussie spirit?”

Falls organisers indicated some kind of response was being planned.

“Standby for details x,” the festival replied.

Cr Goldsworthy said it would take “months and months” for the community to get back on its feet.

“It’s going to put pressure on all of the traders and all of the tourist operators,” he said.

“It is all about peak seasons right down the whole surf coast and right across to the South Australian border.”

-ABC