Brave mother, daughter return to aftermath of Bungundarra fires

JAN Maguire reckons her daughter Julie, who works in a law firm, is tough and capable under stress.

"I've never seen her so concerned as she was Saturday night," she said of the pair's lucky escape from bush fires outside Yeppoon.


The mother and daughter duo, who are next door neighbours on an Athertons Rd property, were monitoring the Cobraball fires from home, and watching the smoke swirl up their paddocks.

"There was no knock at the door; I just told Mum we'd get in the car and go look," Julie said.

"We get as far as Brooksy's (the pineapple farm) on the corner, and we asked the police whether we should go.

"They said to just get out and head north."

The pair returned home just long enough to collect the animals but, by the time they drove back to where they met the police, the Bungundarra road had closed.

The next hour they described as a nightmare, trying to access back roads which were closed by forestry and the police.

"I said to Mum we've got no option but to go back to the fires and try to get through," Julie said.

"We ended up driving through the flames and embers, dodging other vehicles and men on the road.


"It was frightening to feel so hemmed in."

The two finally made their way through on Browns Lane which has since been closed as firefighters and airplanes tackle a persistent blaze between Woodbury and Farnborough Roads.

The Morning Bulletin was with them as they returned to their home on Tuesday morning.

"It's a bit different now we're here to what I expected," Jan Maguire said.

"Somebody's obviously been here to save the house, bless them."

The residences are surrounded by blackened earth, and the few remains of the Maguires' outbuildings.

The change rooms outside the swimming pool and the safety fence are gone, as are the footings to the bore water pump.

"Without water, we won't be able to get back to living out here any time soon," Julie said.

Her daughter's childhood clothes and toys, which were stacked in a storage container in the drive, have entirely disintegrated.

And all that is left of two poly rainwater tanks close by is a small molten puddle of green goo.


Ironically, Jan Maguire was in the process of changing over her insurance policies from a company which failed her following the Cyclone Marcia in 2015.

"I paid really high premiums and they only gave me $26,000 when we had to replace both the roofs," she said.

"Friday morning, I took the papers to my granddaughter's in Cooee Bay to sort out a replacement policy.

"Friday afternoon, we were back here to check out the newest threat."

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