Boorabbin Bushfire Memorial
In our haste to get from point A to point B people often do not stop at small dedication spots and signs. Yet, it is in looking at these that we can get a much better picture and story of the areas we are passing through.
Little remains of the town of Boorabbin today, five and a half hours from Perth. Developed in 1897 it provided a stop in the Cobb and Co stagecoach journey to the goldfields. Along the Great Eastern Highway from Coolgardie to Southern Cross, you drive through some of the 26,000 hectares of Boorabbin National Park.
Here, there is a roadside stop and memorial to the lives lost in the Boorabbin fire of 2007/2008. "The memorial is a reminder of the fragility of human lives and endeavours within this semi-arid and remote environment." - written on sign at the roadstop.
By December 2007 the area had been suffering from a prolonged drought. It was the third year of extreme fire danger. Then on 28th December a vegetation fire started and by 8 January 2008 it had consumed almost 40,000 hectares.
A number of convoys were escorted through the fire along the Great Eastern Highway, but tragically three truck drivers died when one of the convoys was engulfed in flames. A road stop shelters signs, telling of the three men who passed that day; Lewis Bedford, Trevor Murley and Robert Taylor. Each has a sign commemorating their life. In a cemetery, on a headstone, you often only see the year of birth and the year of death, separated by a dash. This memorial fills in some of the dash for these three truck drivers.
A path leads you to through the bush to the stone memorial. It is a 700m return trip.
The memorial is simple yet poignant. Rock seats allow you to sit and contemplate the dangers of this beautiful bush, and the precious gift of life that can be taken from you at any time.
What I found lovely about the monument is that it tells the story of three ordinary Aussie blokes, people that I would never have known about, if this was not here. Being placed off the road and in the bush makes you stop in a safe area and walk through some of the actual area that was consumed by fire. It is so peaceful here. It is hard to imagine the nightmarish terror of the fires. At the same time though, when you look at the bush, you almost can.
The sign here is a timely reminder of a few of the things we can do to stop bushfires. One I will add to this (which should not have to be said, but it sadly happens all too frequently) - never, ever throw cigarettes out of a car window.
Remember, stop at those signs you see when you are driving from A to B. You never know what you may learn and the impact it may have on you.