‘I don’t know what I’m going back to’

 

Brett Heckenberg sits rolling a cigarette and sipping a cool beer as he looks into crowded and smoky Canungra Showgrounds before him.

As one of the 20 bushfire evacuees on site, the small moment of peace is the first he has had in the last two days.

Weary from the last 48 sleepless hours, he has worked through the night to clear the area around his new home on Limerick Drive and save it from the oncoming blaze.

New to the area he had purchased his "dream country escape" just two months earlier.

Now after packing every worldly possession into his cars and van, and moving all 30 of his goats, sheep and horses, he has admitted to himself there was nothing left to do.

"I don't know what I'm going back to, but I know I've done everything in my power that I could have," the red-eyed construction worker said through draws of his cigarette.

Brett Heckenberg at the Canungra Showgrounds after being evacuated due to a bushfire threatening his home. Picture: Kirstin Payne.
Brett Heckenberg at the Canungra Showgrounds after being evacuated due to a bushfire threatening his home. Picture: Kirstin Payne.


His voice cracked with grief only once as he detailed his efforts to repack the home he had only just made his own.

"My sister is also in hospital so she was on the phone to me last night telling me what to pack," Mr Heckenberg said.

"The fire has been by my back door for days. If it wasn't for the water bombers it would have gone up yesterday."


His nephew had already evacuated on Thursday but Mr Heckenberg said he couldn't leave any of his family photo albums or other personal possessions behind.

"I was packing them up, they're in my cars which I've moved - everything is full and parked in a cleared area.

"It is all just a shock, I'm in a daze."

For now he is seeking refuge at the Cunangra Showgrounds in his van with his two small dogs Rusty and Bella.

Fire trucks lined up in a row to battle the Sarabah bushfires.
Fire trucks lined up in a row to battle the Sarabah bushfires.


Instead of using the extra space to save more of his possessions he grabbed a second mattress for anyone that needed it.

"Who knows who might need a bed, I've got one if they need," he said.

"The animals were all I was really needing to keep safe.

"I am going to stay here, they say it's getting worse I just hope the people they're (firefighters) with now can save it."

"Without them my house would have been gone long ago."


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