A long list of infrastructure, economic, environment, psychosocial and health initiatives have been undertaken in partnership with community groups, residents, government agencies and non-government organisations in the bushfire-affected Orara Valley since the Liberation Trail fire threatened homes and businesses in November 2019.
“Having a dedicated Community Recovery Officer for the Valley and positive collaboration with the other levels of government has made a huge difference to being able to get things done on the ground,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor Councillor Denise Knight commenting on the December 2020 Update of the Bushfire Recovery Action Plan 2020-2022. Despite the challenges imposed on activities by COVID-19, we’ve remained clearly focussed on what needs to be done.
“But the real credit goes to the Orara Valley community as a whole which has proved to be extraordinarily resilient and engaged in the recovery process. Working with the locals – and the priorities they’ve identified – has been a very positive experience.”
Alongside the wide range of practical and funding assistance provided to locals by the three levels of government, a varied program of community events, drop-in and outreach sessions, training, creative and environmental initiatives have been run in the Valley to help people connect, receive help and maintain their physical and mental health.
The Nana Glen Rural Fire Brigade has already been using a hardstand area installed to make access to water easier during fire emergencies. This is part of a $250,000 project to provide hardstand locations across the local government area at Brooklana, Ulong, Lowanna, Nana Glen, Bucca, Moonee, Upper Corindi and Bonville.
Among the higher profile projects has been a Creative Recovery Project for 150 primary school aged students spearheaded by Coffs Harbour City Council’s Regional Gallery and Museum. The key component was classroom-based creative activities workshops led by Gumbaynggirr Elder Uncle Mark Flanders and Art Therapist Emma Gentle that helped the students work through their experience of the bushfires.
A Tourist Trail of the Orara Valley has also been developed to encourage visitors to explore and experience the natural spaces, cultural and historical experiences and tasty delights of the region. This was launched with a very successful ‘Shop the Orara Valley’ campaign to showcase the food, produce and retail delights of the area.
On the ground repair and replacement works for fencing for local property-owners have also been continuing with the assistance of charity and social enterprise organisations – BackTrack, BlazeAid, and the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour.
Nana Glen Landcare volunteers have also received funding and support to further rehabilitate the historic Coldwater Creek Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) as a tourist attraction and site of local significance.
Pictured above are members of the BackTrack team at work repairing fencing in the Valley.