Suzuki 4WD Club Of NSW - Wingello Project
Chainsaws and Wingello
After the last summer’s devastating fires there was a mood in the club to help some of the small communities who were affected. Given Black Diamond’s experience with the Nerriga community we asked Lee and Nicole to attend our club meeting to help lead a discussion on how we might best direct our efforts.
From my perspective two key things came out of the discussion; we wanted to find a fire affected community where we could make a difference and to make a difference, we needed not only a skills inventory but some certifications, particularly chainsaws, since a lot of remedial work was likely to involve removing fallen timber.
Chainsaw Training that transpired was indeed serendipitous. Thanks to the Association, National Parks, Getabout Training, and the commitment from our members, a number of club members were able to undertake chainsaw training and certification. Feedback on the training was excellent.
Comments like: “The instructors knew their stuff and were easy to work with”
“a very enjoyable learning experience. I highly recommend it”
“Listen and learn, they're very knowledgeable and keen to pass on that knowledge.”
“I have been using a chainsaw since I was a teenager and still learnt different cutting techniques.”
"Getting away from the bad habit was the hardest part of the course.”
“The trainees ranged from no experience to lots of experience and John, Carl and Graham catered for us all”
“Their venue is an ideal set up, with a training room and the work shed down the hill for practical demos like chain sharpening etc.”
“The grounds provide great real-world situations to be cutting in.”
Thanks to all those in the Association who made this happen. Training without practical real-life application is somewhat limited and The Wingello Project gave our members the opportunity to apply their new skills.
In terms of assisting fire affected communities we decided to start our efforts simply by taking some business to fire affected areas and scheduled a trip to Belanglo State Forest with the plan to eat lunch locally. We caught up with the ranger and had a great chat and on his suggestion headed to Wingello. That lead to the Suzuki 4WD Club of NSW Inc Wingello Project. It started that day when we visited The Un-named Café in Wingello.
Wingello is a small community with a single shop and a railway station approximately 100ks south of Campbelltown. What seems a lifetime ago, but in fact was only January of this year, this township was almost swallowed up by fire. 12 houses were lost along with hundreds of other local infrastructures. https://www.theguardian.com/australi...geof-wingello The place is still scarred and although the clean-up has started there is still an incredible amount to do.
While we were enjoying lunch in the Café back in March, one of our members, Chris had a chat with David, a local identity and owner of the café, to find out if the community could use some help from volunteers from the NSW Suzuki Club. Could they? Yes, they sure could. We put the trip in our calendar, and we were about to head back and do some work and then came the COVID 19 Lockdown. This delayed our intentions but also gave us time to be better prepared particularly with chainsaw training. The club stayed in touch and kept the dialogue going and in July a small band of NSW Suzuki Club members headed to that Café again.
Graham, our local contact met us outside and after introductions we headed off to see what needed to be done.
The task for the community is enormous but as Graham, who is a project manager on exceptionally large government construction projects explained, everything helps and a lot of it is simple stuff; it just has be done over and over. For example, on one block alone there are over 500 condemned trees which must be pulled out, cut, stacked, and burnt. Gardening has been neglected since the fire, just tidying up a bush fire ravaged garden helps the local morale. Plenty to do, one bite at a time. Graham also mentioned other groups have been talking to him but with COVID the NSW Suzuki Club was the first group that has turned up to work.
So, what did we do? We’ve had working days at Wingello on 2 weekends now and have more scheduled in our calendar for the coming months. Chainsaw skills are at the heart of most work we do but for every chainsaw we need labourers to stack, drag and sometimes burn the rubbish. It’s reasonably hard work but certainly appreciated. We’ve also been lucky enough to have the use of a chipper for the day and made some big inroads with that. As I said earlier the overall task is huge but as Graham keeps reminding us every little bit helps, this is an endurance course not a glamorous sprint. Hard work for the locals for a long time and hopefully we can contribute over the coming months/years.
Next steps basically, more of the same, COVID aside, we hope to visit Wingello at least once a month. Chris Lloyd is our project manager for Suzuki 4WD Club of NSW’S “Wingello Project”
An unsolicited comment from our Facebook page probably sums it up -
Hello! can you please pass on our gratitude to the men and women who have assisted my parents in Wingello today and the other weekend. They have done a wonderful job and it's sped up the recovery process significantly. Very humbling to know there is still awesome folks out there willing to step in and help people in need. - regards Adam Forest Rd, Wingello.