Western District pioneers were confronted with all the elements Australia has to offer including flood, drought and fire. Each had its own devastating effect on their lives and livelihood, particularly those on the land.
By January 11, 1905, the Harmans had already experienced the effect of bushfires. Fires in 1888 and 1901 had seen the loss of stock, grazing land and life. Bushfires today are just as devastating but the pioneers of the 19th century and early 20th century did not have the weather forecasting, firefighting equipment and communications now available. When fire went thought Byaduk in 1905, one can only imagine how they managed with the equipment, or lack of, available to them at the time.
The fire began near the Byaduk Caves. The first Harman to be effected was Gershom, son of Reuban Harman. The fire then travelled through part of J. Harman’s property. I can’t be sure if this was the property of James or Jonathan as both owned land around the Byaduk caves area. Poor Mr Harper, lost all the timber for a new house, while others lost hay stacks. Forty men were fighting the fire but wind changes made it almost impossible for them.