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Our Local Fire History

This section starts with an overview of Eurobodalla's fire history, includes some stories of local fires, and some old photos of Malua Bay's early brigade members.

The following paragraphs are taken from the EUROBODALLA FIRE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE BUSH FIRE RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN,  February, 2002, Section 2.2.1:

"High intensity bushfires have been a regular phenomena within the Eurobodalla since European settlement. The Eurobodalla has a particularly bad fire history with severe fire seasons occurring every three to seven years. During the last fifty years, at least eleven devastating fires have occurred in the area. The fires of 1939 and 1952 are generally regarded as having been the most widespread, but those of 1927-28, 1953 and 1968, did incalculable damage over more localised areas.

The fires of 1994 generally started west of urban development and ran into urban development, under strong winds. One house and several sheds and fences were destroyed by fire, and over 60 homes were ignited and saved over the two day period. At no stage, did a 'southerly buster' impact on the running fires, otherwise losses may have been more significant.

This severe fire history results from the combination of a wide range of factors which include topography, vehicle access and trafficability, frequent droughts, periods of hot drying winds and large areas of forest which for the most part have abundant shrub and herb layers.

Wildfire occurrence is closely related to the rainfall pattern. A large percentage of fires over the years, have been relatively easy to control and a number were allowed to burn out over very large areas. Their origins have generally been in the dry area to the west or on private property adjoining State Forest or Crown Land, the cause in most cases being illegal burning off to promote new growth for grazing.

Most of the severe outbreaks have occurred when fires which had been burning steadily for a long time spread rapidly with the advent of conditions of high fire danger. In general, this has occurred when the Spring dry failed to break, as happened in 1968, or when a wet Spring has been followed by a dry summer, as happened in 1939 and 1952. The most common direction of fire travel is from the west towards the coast, posing a serious threat to coastal settlements."


Some Memories Of Group Captain North, Peter Gowen

Guerilla Bay 1968 Fire

In the 1968 Guerilla Bay was threatened by a major fire.


The Late 80's  - Percy Davis Fire

The Percy Davis fire started between Mogo and Moruya, on Mount Pollywambera, went ballistic and threatened properties on Maulbrooks Road, crossed the highway to Percy Davis Drive, and the fire front reached the ocean while properties on Maulbrooks Road and Percy Davis Drive were still being protected. There were reports that Garlandtown, near the Moruya Airport, was to be engulfed but no support was available to help with protection. Luckily it did not reach there.

Every able person worked together to defend life and properties from these fires. Some unprepared volunteers struggled to defend properties wearing shorts and work boots.


Potato Point Fire

This fire started near the Mill and within a short period engulfed Potato Point. Peter remembers hearing reports of kangaroos standing in the surf.


The 1994 Fires

In 1994 Sydney was experiencing major bushfire problems. Hot dry winds were affecting the whole of Australia's East coast. Crews from Eurobodalla were requested to assist with sydney's fires, but as volunteers packed their bags there was a firecall. All hands were needed to stay and fight fires in Eurobodalla, and none could be spared for Sydney.

An arsonist had started a fire in the Buckenboura area in State Forest to try to burn someone's land. A second fire started near Mogo and spread into Goldfields and this quickly escalated, "went ballistic" and crowned. It hit North Broulee along the highway to the bridge over the Tomaga River at Tomakin, where 23 houses were partially ignited. All these were defended by volunteers and saved. Every volunteer available was involved.

On Day 2 the original fire from the Buckenboura took off and crowned, crossing the Highway near Deep Creek Dam, engulfing the Deep Creek area including the house and sheds.

This fire quickly impacted simultaneously on Vista Avenue, Catalina; Surf Beach; Grandfather's Gully and Lilli Pilli. Every unit in Eurobodalla was involved in protecting property, as well as a task force being sent from the Riverina area to Sydney which was rerouted to assist Eurobodalla - 60 appliances. The only house lost was at Deep Creek Dam, as it was deemed unsafe to be defended. The 1994 fires raged for 5 days until they were brought under control. Nine fire fighters were hospitalised.

For more on the 1994 NSW fire situation see:



2000 Fires

The 2000 fires burnt out of control for 2 weeks. The Eastern flank of the fire was 65 kms long. Gunderry Oval at Moruya became a field camp and 9 helicopters including the Erikson Sky Crane used it as a base.


Some Historical Pictures of the Malua Bay

 Rural Fire Brigade


Malua Bay Brigade Christmas Party 1999

Back L to R: Ken McGregor (Dougall/Doogs), Peter Connell, Hans Riedl,?, Mick Buchanan, Greg Bowman, ?

Middle row, L to R: Dave Ramsland, Peter Gowen, Hugh Favoloro, Helen Riedl, John Palmer, ?, Lyal Farrer.

Front L to R: Martin Green, Kevin Burns, Mrs Riddell, Jim Potter, Mark Buchanan with children.


At the Malau Bay Fire Shed 1998, on the occasion of George Riddell's award for 58 year of service.

Back L to R: Terry Toll (Fire Control Officer),?, Chris Vaden, ?,Peter Gowen, Peter Reddell, Hugh Favoloro, Jimmy Potter, Greg Bowman, Helen Riedl, Hans Riedl, Jimmy Brown.

Row 2 L to R:  Mick Buchanan, Dave Ramsland, Kevin Burns

Row 3 L to R:  Kim Martin, Kay Gowen, ?,  Barry Belt (Regional Officer) ?

Row 4: L to R: Jenny Riddell, Mr and Mrs George Riddell, Jimmy Paul, Ken McGregor, Stuart Kendall (President)




L to R: Dave Ramsland, ?, Peter Connell, Judy Thompson, David Thompson, Kevin Burns.

Judy and David Thompson helped to raise $9000 for the brigade after the '94 Fires.



Isuzu bogged!

Malua Bay Brigade's V8 MFR Bedford


Field Day at Moruya early 1980's. The middle truck is an historic Canadian Blitz kept at Moruya.

In the centre of this photo is Malua Bay's V8 MFR. This was received new to Malua Bay in 1984.To the left is a 2-wheel drive International and on the right an S series Bedford.

A crew from Malua Bay brigade putting out a car fire. To the left of the V8 MFR is a 2-wheel drive Leyland. Peter Gowen stands next to a woman near the trucks. The day finished with a water fight, and Malua Bay brigade had mischieviously put red dye in their tank, ruining many of the white uniforms worn on the day!

Probably the same field day.

The V8 MFR.

L to R: Ken McGregor, Kevin Burns, Lyal Farrer and Mark Buchanan


Updated July 2011