In the News – 13 January 1905

Western District pioneers were exposed to most of the elements Australia offers including flood, drought and fire.  Each had its own devastating effect on their lives and livelihood, particularly those on the land.

By summer 1905, my Harman family of Byaduk had already experienced bushfire,  Fires in 1888, 1896, 1901, and 1902 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 a fire went close to their homes at Byaduk on 11 January 1905, one can only imagine how they managed.

The fire broke away in the stony ground near the Byaduk Caves and travelled southerly at a rapid pace.

NEAR BYADUK CAVES.

NEAR BYADUK CAVES.

The first Harman hit was George Harman, son of James Harman.  His property Quetta was on the north-eastern corner of the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road and what is now Harman’s Road. The fire crossed the main road on to his father’s property Mt Pleasant and Frank Kinghorn’s The Island next door. Alfred Harper, lost all the timber for a new house, while others lost haystacks. Forty men were fighting the fire but wind changes made it almost impossible for them.  The Portland Guardian reported on the fire on 13 January 1905.

HEAVY LOSSES AT BYADUK. (1905, January 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63691042