Operation Salway

Operation Salway launched 15 February 2023 when Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) volunteers returned to the Bega Valley to help the communities of Yowrie and Windella, Verona, Upper Brogo, Quaama, and Cobargo continue their recovery from the Black Summer bushfires.

In late 2019, six lives were lost, and more than 300 homes were destroyed when the Baja Forest Road Fire raced through the town of Cobargo and the surrounding areas. Operation Salway built on DRA’s initial Black Summer Bushfire operations, Operation Ryan in 2020, and Operation Corkhill in 2021. Unfortunately, significant COVID-19 restrictions forced DRA to cease its operation and return at a later date.

With much work still to complete and many more to assist, our volunteers, including those from the Australian National University and UNSW, finally returned in 2022 to continue relief efforts. Operation Salway received funding from the Australian Government and ran for nine weeks.

In response to Black Summer Bushfires
Location Bega Valley, NSW View map
Status Complete
Dates 15 Feb 2023 – 20 Apr 2023
Operation Salway

Bega Valley Shire Bushfire Recovery NSW

Area of Operations

The areas of operation included Yowrie and Windella, Verona, Upper Brogo, Quaama, and Cobargo.

Bushfire Recovery Taskings

DRA provides relief and recovery to communities impacted by disasters. As part of our Bega Valley Shire Bushfire Recovery Grant activities, we provided the following capabilities:

• Damage and impact assessments
• Route clearance and property access
• Debris removal
• Chainsaw work
• Expedient home repair

Francis Frank Robert Salway

The story behind the name

As part of its respect to military veterans, DRA names its relief operations after a local veteran in honour of their service to the community, and in turn ours.

Operation Salway was named in honour of Francis ‘Frank’ Robert Salway who served in both France and Belgium during WWI. His service in France earned him three decorations from both the French and Belgium governments.

Awarded the Belgium Gold Cross, Silver and Bronze Palms and the French Somme Medal, Frank also received a Diploma of Honour, Life Membership of the Belgian War Veterans Association, and the British General Service and Victory Medals.
His service continued in WWII for which he received the Defence Medal and the Australian Service Medals. Frank’s outstanding commitment to his community continued long after the war. A member of the RSL for more than half a century, Frank was Cobargo Sub-Branch President for more 45 years and received Life RSL membership in 1952.

The Frank Salway Shield, which was donated by Frank, is still presented each year to the RSL sub-branch that raises the most money for charity.
Captain of the Cobargo Bush Fire Brigade for more 55 years, Frank remained Chairman of the Brigade. He served nine years on the local Council and four terms as Deputy President and was instrumental in sealing Cobargo-Bermagui Road. His efforts to make the road a functional thoroughfare, ensured locals can travel to Bermagui in comfort.

In 1976, NSW Governor General Sir Arthur Cutler VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE made Frank at 83-years -old, a Member of the British Empire for his services to the community. Sadly, in 2019, Frank’s nephew Robert Salway (63) and Robert’s son Patrick Salway (29) both died while trying to save their Cobargo home in the Badja Forest fire during the Black Summer Bushfires.


Become a partner 10,166

Volunteer hours

Become a partner 156

Work orders completed

Become a partner $524,893

Community costs saved


DRA’s Bushfire Recovery Operation in the Bega Valley, NSW

Operation Burton

Get involved

Planning for upcoming operational deployments is now underway. If you are keen to participate or find out more, express your interest today.

Find out more