Talk to the average Coonabarabran resident and you will find there are still questions and anger about the Wambelong fire. The results of the Coronial inquiry and the NSW Legislative Council Committee inquiry have yet to be released, but it has been established that the fire was deliberately lit, something that only a few people were aware of 24 months ago.
That’s not to say there has not been controversy within the inquiries themselves, finger-pointing between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (renamed locally after the fire as the National Sparks and Wildfire Service) and the Rural Fire Service and local farmers have led to an uneasy truce on the street, but fiery discussion on Facebook.
It would seem that the town has been spared a “first world problem” that the tiny town of Murrindindi (was a population of 700 now 250) is suffering from. They were gifted with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure that the town now cannot afford to pay for or upkeep. That doesn’t mean questions have not been asked about the Mayors’ Fund and other aid donated to the town and where it went.
I think we have been on the recovery path for some time, but until the inquiries have been finalised and the recommendations put into place we will still be thinking about how it could happen again, and possibly with even great loss.
Opinion piece by Allison Reynolds