Wimmera, Grampians bushfires to affect tourism| Photos

WIMMERA business owners are concerned about the damage of the latest bushfires on the region’s tourism.

Halls Gap Zoo owner Yvonne Culell said the zoo remained unscathed by the Grampians bushfires.

But she said despite the fires never touching Halls Gap or the zoo, both would suffer because of the blazes.

“Financial difficulties will be the trouble,’’ she said.

“We need our tourism industry to be supported with tourists.

“It’s making sure they know we’re still here.’’

Blaze burns 53,000 hectares

Mrs Culell brushed off rumours the couple planned to ditch the zoo animals if the fires descended.

She said she and her husband Greg had put a comprehensive fire plan into action as the fires approached.

The plan included consultation with Country Fire Authority officers and volunteers.

Mrs Culell said there were tracks and a dam for fire trucks to access the zoo if necessary.

She said there was a generator in place to continue pumping water if the electricity cut out.

“We had all the sprinklers going in the enclosures watering them down, and pet packs ready for the endangered animals should it come to evacuation,’’ she said.

Mrs Culell said staff had the choice of staying or leaving. 

She thanked CFA fire-fighters and volunteers for their efforts.

“We had nine of their trucks doing surveillance around the property,’’ she said.

Old Dadswell Town owner Max Green is ecstatic after his property survived the Dadswells Bridge blaze.

While the grass, fences and bush on his property burnt, the cabins remained untouched.

Mr Green and his son stayed to defend the property from the fire.

“It came right over at 100 miles an hour,’’ he said. 

“I was starting to get frightened, but then when it hit there wasn’t time to get frightened.

“I stopped thinking I was going to die in the first five minutes; then after that the more confident we got.

“We had the strike team come in. 

“With them running the roost it was just fantastic.’’

Mr Green said despite the great result, the fires would affect his business.

He will place signs for the

business on the Western Highway today, reading ‘Seared and burnt but still open’.

“We’ll suffer for the next couple of months,’’ he said.

Giant Koala owners Julieanne and Rob McPherson had two separate properties in the line of fire – literally.

Dadswells Bridge, the home of the Giant Koala, was under an emergency warning on Friday night.

The McPhersons had a fire plan in place for the complex, which remained safe.

But their concerns are not over.

“We have a property at Wartook,’’ Mrs McPherson said.

“We don’t know but we’ve been told unofficially that we’ve lost a shed and part of the property.’’

The McPhersons believe the house is unaffected.

Mrs McPherson said the worst part for people was not knowing.

She said the couple decided to leave the properties.

“We had both of our properties in the line of fires – it was pretty worrying,’’ she said.

Mrs McPherson said the Giant Koala was open.

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