Tim Bach

The Bureau has declared a La Nina event for the third summer in a row. Warm ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean to Australia’s north-east will bring moisture-laden air and heavy rains to the east coast again in the coming months.

The SES has warned regional residents to be prepared. Michael Sitton, from the Daylesford VICSES unit has warned residents to be prepared for storm events. Extra spring growth can make trees top-heavy and, with a bit of wind and moist soils, tress will fall.

Thanks to a Hepburn Shire chainsaw program, a number of residents are better prepared to help themselves and their neighbours in the event of another major storm. The Shire has sponsored a basic chainsaw use and maintenance course for local residents. I was lucky enough to join a group of six students two weeks ago for the three-day course.

The course was run by Timber Training Creswick (TTC) at their sawmill off Moore Street. The course, known as Trim and Cross Cut Felled Trees, was jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments under the Disaster Recovery funding arrangements. Saws and safety equipment were provided by TTC.

Training started with a one-day classroom session emphasising theory and safety including hands-on basic chainsaw maintenance and sharpening.

The following two days on a private property near Carlsruhe provided an opportunity for carefully supervised field training. The heavily forested property had been badly affected by the June 2021 storms. The owner offered the property for training and in return had damage cleared and a road reopened by trainees. Hepburn Shire Council is now working with residents in a similar situation to provide suitable properties for the training to be held within the Shire.

The group of students had a range of prior experience but the instructor, Ralf, was able to adapt to the training needs of each individual. One student, Ian, had extensive storm damage to his property at Bullarto, He had cleared much of it by himself but had never had formal chainsaw training. He admitted that he had developed some bad habits and was grateful for the safety training. He also gained confidence dealing with larger trees. Moira from Daylesford, who had never held a chainsaw, was confidently attacking smaller trees by the end of our second day in the field.

The course is being repeated for small groups of six students over three months from August to October. In all, over 70 local residents will complete the three-day course. Hopefully, they will be able to help themselves and help their neighbours when the next major storm hits.

Tim Bach is a Daylesford resident and the editor of The Wombat Post.