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  • Adaminaby Air Surveillance

    20 0108 FB chopper
    Canberra Helicopters Pilot Chris Knight and a fire zone below.

    By Steve Cuff

    In times of trouble you often look to friends for support.

    Peter Cochran from Yaouk near Adaminaby knew his area was in potential trouble last week. Fires were prominent and they needed information to help prepare and battle any fire heading their way.

    When Peter called on friend Terry Snow from Canberra Airport for assistance, Terry obliged and in a big way, sending down a helicopter for aerial surveillance.
    Terry and Peter go back to school days, and when Peter advised Terry of the predicament the chopper arrived.

    “We would have been buggered without it,” said Peter.

    We all know flying helicopters is not cheap, and as put this morning by Peter, the Canberra Helicopter, fuel and pilot were costing the taxpayer absolutely zero.

    When it comes to generosity that is one huge way to offer help.

    “Tezza on behalf of the community thank you. Hopefully a letter of thanks will head your way after the medals are handed out,” said Peter of Terry’s generosity.

    Peter Cochran observing fires from the helicopter

    Peter also offered the downside this morning which in this time of urgency seems ludicrous.
    “Due to apparent (CASA) “regulations” we are unable to take the Canberra Airport chopper into the fireground so will not be able to give further reports. Thanks to Pilot Chris Knight and aircraft owner Terry Snow for the donated support providing invaluable info in the heat of the fire for three days.”

    As the Adaminaby Complex fire was building strength, Peter and Shannons Flat Deputy Danny Henderson had eyes in the sky where they could assist the ground crews of how and where the fire was growing. All valuable intelligence for fire crews on the ground.

    The fire was not so kind to all with Bill and Joan Fogarty losing their family home entirely. Bill and his son had stayed to defend but the fires became too great.

    The Adaminaby Rural Fire Service said on January 4 that there was approximately 60km of active fire front which came from every direction, the main fire front came within 10km of town. They then chased multiple spot fires which didn’t let up.

    Kosciuszko Hut Surveillance

    The past few days where weather has cooled and fire threat not as prevelant, Peter and pilot Chris have taken to the skies to view the damage to Selwyn Snow Resort, the Kianda precinct and to scout many legendary huts that scatter the landscape.

    Unfortunately the news has not been good on that front either.

    We were aware the other day of the loss of Selwyn Snow Resort and Kiandra buildings, but there has been significant loss with huts.

    “We will mourn our heritage together but will not forgive or forget,” said Peter.

    “Sad day for our entire community as our cultural heritage is torn from our hearts. Brace yourself for some distressing photos.
    “Bradley’s is gone. Tim OBrien please accept our apology for not defending this precious piece of culture heritage.”
    “Happy Jacks, my favourite hut with childhood memories totally destroyed,” said Peter.

    A partially burnt Brooks Hut in a blackened landscape. All photos courtesy of Peter Cochran.

    Here is a list of what we know so far.

    Brook’s hut rebuilt after the 2003 fires. Survived but badly bent.

    Bradleys OBriens Hut is gone.
    Delayneys Hut rebuilt after 2003 fires totally destroyed.
    Mathews Hut gone.
    Happy Jacks totally destroyed.

    Broken Dam hut, rebuilt 2003, survived.
    Harvey’s (Tantangara) Hut survived.Coolamine Homestead survived all ok.
    Gavels, Schofield’s, Circuits and Brayshaw’s live to see another day.
    Pockets and Oldfield’s OK

    Horse Treks

    A further downside for the Cochran family is their long term Cochran Horse Treks business has been decimated. While they still have their property and their horses, the treks they conducted through the high country seem to be lost.
    With burnt terrain and the Kosciuszko Park closed, treks have been cancelled and the outlook not so bright.

    “Absolutely shattered,” is how Peter described the situation this morning.

    For decades this business has shown visitors the real side of the national park and it was a highly popular with tourists who all loved not only the treks but the history of the region imparted by trek guides, including Peter himself.

    This will be only one of thousands of businesses who will suffer greatly across the wider region from fire impact, property damage and with tourists currently being shut out of the area for safety reasons, financial hardship. It is the height of summer and tourist towns across the Snowy Mountains are like ghost towns with residents only, and some still evacuated.

    Coolamine Hut