Ray White Woodside owner Angus Campbell and his community in Adelaide Hills are just beginning the long journey to recovery after the devastating bushfires of recent months.
If Mr Campbell’s name sounds familiar it is because he is the man behind the Beyond the Bricks campaign image of a smouldering tree looking out over a fire-ravaged landscape.
When Mr Campbell took that image on his smartphone, he never thought it would become the national image of a bushfire charity drive that has now raised more than $1 million.
The campaign, initiated by Ray White, has seen some of Australia’s top real estate agencies come together for one common purpose – to provide aid to those who have lost everything to the bushfires.
Mr Campbell said there is a sense of pride that comes into it when he sees the image used for the Beyond the Bricks campaign.
“I was surprised actually to see the image used to the extent that it was – I thought that was quite special, it is a very old tree and certainly having its time in the sun, albeit a sun of fire,” Mr Campbell said.
“But if it helps to bring awareness to those that weren’t affected, then it helps to support those that were, by raising the money that it has done.
“We’re very proud to have been part of the campaign and after so many people lost their homes and businesses, it’s important that we are there for people when they’re in need because people that have homes help us put food on the table.”
Mr Campbell’s tree, which an arborist has estimated could be up to 700 years old, is also rebounding from the fires and sprouting new stems.
“The new shoots are developing, they are getting bigger every day and the arborist came and had a look at the tree and suggested that we sculpt the tree as opposed to take it down, which I liked the idea of,” he said.
As for the community’s efforts to rebuild, he said there is still a long way to go before many in the area can begin to restore what was lost.
“Rebuilding across the Adelaide Hills in the fire scar area is a very long process for a lot of people, it takes people a long time to take stock of the damage that occurred,” Mr Campbell said.
“That process for me personally is still ongoing – so the rebuilding is not instantaneous, the fire is instantaneous and the fire is an event that rips through quite quickly, but it’s the aftermath with any natural weather event that takes some time to rebuild.”
There will be no cattle back on Mr Campbell’s property this year so for now he is focusing on the rebuild and further protecting his home from future fires.
“We’ll push the grass out, so the perimeter of our home currently has a lot of lawn but if we push it out even further it will give us more protection in the future,” he said.
Property and livestock are not the only things that have been damaged in the blaze, Mr Campbell stressed that much of the recovery needs to focus on mental health support.
“Having seen what’s happened to some homes in particular, some of them have been burned to the ground – those people need support now more than ever before,” he said.
“But also I think that the support that’s available means that they are reaching out to those networks and perhaps being recognised as people in need.
“Any children exposed to the fires will need help, without a doubt – they won’t know that yet but I think as time goes on, they will need some support.”
Luckily, Mr Campbell said the Adelaide Hills community has banded together to ensure that no one has to go through the journey on their own.
“It’s been quite breathtaking with the support and that’s been just beautiful, we can’t thank everyone enough,” he said.