The brewery, the brigade and the bushfires

For many parts of Australia, being prepared for a bushfire is a big deal and Margaret River is no exception.

Our brewery is a popular destination for visitors and locals, and throughout the year acts as a community meeting place – for catching up, for beer and pizza, and also as a place for our local bush fire volunteers to come to meet up with the community and talk about the upcoming fire season, which this year has well and truly begun.

Hands-on experiences can be had in the brewery back yard throughout summer – the Rosa Brook brigade sets up fire-fighting vehicles so people can see and use some of the fire-fighting equipment, or just have a chat about how to best PREPARE ACT SURVIVE with their local VBFB (Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade).

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Images: Scenes from the weekend at Bullsbrook.

It’s not all doom and gloom – having to plan for the worst actually has some upsides: it means the community gets together and works together, which really fosters community spirit. Sometimes you gotta pull together in a small community like Margaret River! We have a donation keg at the Brewery that the community donates into for much needed additional welfare and equipment beyond what the government supplies, and our venue has supported the brigade over the years to fundraise for Victorian CFA brigades, local families who have lost all in home fires and flood victims.

Colonial Venue Manager Richard Moroney is the Captain of the Rosa Brook Brigade which looks after the area where the Colonial brewery sits. (Technically the brewery is in the Cowaramup brigade area who, as luck would have it, already boasts their own brewery – so in the best of country spirit and practicality a handshake agreement was made that Colonial will sit within the Rosa Brook patch). With around 30 volunteers the brigade attends an average of 12 fires a year ranging from small grass fires to large campaign bush fires in our immediate and adjacent towns and communities.

Richard says the brewery is involved with local fire-preparedness and fighting efforts because the brewery itself is built around the value of community. There are only 1000 paid combat fire fighters in Western Australia and around 26,000 volunteers: ordinary men and women who give up their time to protect their own and others’ communities from the destructive power of fire.

“The brewery is a place for all walks and flavours of life, exactly the same ingredients that make a community. Colonial values putting back into the community as much as it enjoys making great beer and good experiences.”

It’s been a wild start to the year for Richard and the brigade, helping with strike teams and task forces involved in fighting large scale fires around Perth such as Bindoon and most recently Bullsbrook – a fire that within around 36 hours of being reported on the morning of Saturday 10 January had burnt through more than 7,000 hectares of mainly semi-rural land.

With many of the Perth crews dead on their feet after long hours, multiple fires and some very challenging circumstances, teams from Margaret River and surrounds volunteered to help relieve tired fire fighters and help protect homes, people and communities. Richard, along with other volunteers, were tasked on Sunday 11 January with helping contain fires on Royal Australian Airforce land and adjacent areas – a job made even more challenging due to unexploded ordinance in the bomb range!

Take care everyone.