Deploying to Tathra on Op Dawes is my second response effort with Team Rubicon to date after also serving on Op Dunlop last year, where we assisted the town of Proserpine in Queensland with recovery following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Driving into town the first thing I noticed was the difference in the devastation between a Cyclone and the Bushfires.
The contrast was evident in the way that Tropical Cyclone Debbie just absolutely destroyed everything within the affected regions, whereas the Bushfire that impacted Tathra was so very centralised, and only inflicted damage to specific parts of the town.
Personally, it’s a rare experience that after just meeting an almost entirely unknown crew (maybe 3 or 4 who I knew from Proserpine) I felt incredibly welcomed straight away and able to get stuck in working comfortably and cooperatively as a team from the outset.
The next morning after receiving a daily briefing and our taskings, we headed straight out on into the community with the aim to make a positive difference in people’s lives during a time of need, and the strong community spirit reminded me so much of what I’d experienced in Proserpine.
Consistently we would arrive to help a resident doing it tough, only for them to ask us to visit the next street or a couple of houses down instead, and to aid someone who in their eyes needed assistance more than themselves or had experienced much more damage than what they had.
The generosity of the local businesses has also been amazing, with a common willingness to donate their own resources in order to help provide us with food & accommodation while we worked. We were accommodated by the Surf Life Saving Club and had our meals at the Tathra Beach Bowling Club. There were regular offers of Coffees and Hot Cross Buns for greyshirts, and other things from the bakery and local business grateful for our efforts .
Everything about this community reminded me so much of the ‘never defeated’ spirit of Proserpine and the feeling of purpose and belonging that I had experienced there. I know that I made the right decision to come down to Tathra with Team Rubicon. To once again be part of such an amazing experience has proven to me the value and the impact of what we are able to offer, and to achieve through ongoing service.
Pete Sanderson Veteran