When Past & Present Collide – THANKYOU

Well a New Year has dawned  again and even though there are plenty of new things quietly being planned for Inspiring Women in 2013 , a constant message has been coming my way & maybe yours too…..

Some very strong connections that I made 8- 10 years ago have quietly made sure that I had not forgotten what wonderful things have happened in the past and that it will continue in the present as well.

What a great message!

Celebrating at the end of the year, I caught up with old friends between Xmas and New Year  and found out I have been already been working with “their children” totally unknown to me at the time!
I have not seen these people since they had left the Northern Beaches for the Southern Highlands 8 years ago….only sending the usual Christmas cards every year. (love you Janet & Eddie)

By the way the children in question are in their late 20’s early 30’s but still, these coincidences did not stop coming…these kids are the ones I am getting to know in my new role as Councillor when meeting different community groups. How wonderful to see that people who cared about their community have kids that are still carrying on the same message just on different ways!

Then another surprise from the past…

A wonderful letter arrived including a CD called “Pans on Fire- Recovery”. 
A tribute from the Marysville Bushfires , a thank you for all the work the Northern Beaches Business community had done in 2009 to help the Marysville townfolk.

As I was involved in both the Warringah Chamber of Commerce and Inspiring Women at the time I had managed to get the message out to the business community about specific needs required by the people of Marysville. You must remember that at this time in 2004, the financial climate for business was not good , most businesses had a cash crisis happening. However we did manage to get businesses to contribute stock and goods and use their community connections to get more items. They couldn’t have been more generous!
A sad recollection of mine was of speaking to their final surviving executive member of Marysville Chamber of Commerce to arrange for support for both his business and the resurrection of their Chamber. Dealing with government officials was something I was used to and could find support quite easily from other wonderful people in Victoria. It was so unbelievably sad…

If you want to hear a little of the CD, watch the video above, with scenes of Marysville and the wonderful people who have created an oasis again in rebuilding. A longer explanation video is at “Pans on Fire- Recovery”. 

If you were one of the MANY that contributed- please read the letter below in purple from Genevieve Collette who many of you will remember. Her brother and sister & sister in law were living down there in Marysville at the time…
There were so many of you involved too many to mention but I THANK YOU FOR YOUR WONDERFUL GENEROSITY and YES WE REMEMBER THE PAST AND LOOK FORWARD TO A FABULOUS FUTURE!


After receiving the Pans on Fire CD from Leonie and Richard I couldn’t help but think back to that day/night time of great stress, anticipation, grief and gratitude.
It was my brother Greg who called us on the Sunday morning about 10 am to say there was a lot of loss and nearly the whole town of Marysville was gone but my sister and her husband were safe. Our first sighting was on the 6pm news there was Leonie and Richard in their large bus driving out of town. To this day I still kiss that bus and thank it for saving them. Richard said he couldn’t take the car as the cars were melting.

Late Sunday evening I made a call to a friend who had an empty shop in Dee Why that I had just swept out to do readings in only to be temporary.

I told her I needed her shop as a drop of point for people to bring goods for the Marysville townsfolk.

Emily was fantastic and just gave it to me.

The next day I put up a sign in the window.

“Bush Fire Appeal”

They need mobile phone chargers, toothbrushes and baby clothes/ nappies.

Little did I realize the size of the heart of the Warringah Community.!!!!!

A dear friend Sue Heins had sent out an SOS to the Warringah Chamber of Commerce as well as her women’s Business Group “Inspiring Women” which she is the founder of.

Passers by were amazing, they would come and stare at the pictures I had put up of the town read the sign, then cross the road to Coles or Woolworths and come back with You name it! Underwear nappies bottles, teats, sheets toiletries. It just kept coming and coming immediately I had a full time job.

Sue Heins and Terry Rooke are damn good organizers.

I swear, we had boxes, we had tape we had labels and we had a whole bunch of volunteers who would turn up every day and help me sort through the mammoth amount of clothes/shoes/linen toiletries/ travel bags everything.

I remember a Monavale News agency had also put out a sign and were driving down daily delivering to us at Dee Why.

The shop was quite long and not that wide but it had a very tall ceiling and we stacked it to the brim.

The collecting seemed to take on it’s own momentum, people just continually walked in with several bags.

Terry had heaps of boxes donated from Brookvale Storage where she worked. Lots of gear came in those $2.00 bags so we just checked every item to make sure it was clean and suitable and began to pack. Towel boxes, sheet boxes, girl’s clothes boxes, books etc. This continued for over 3 and a half weeks.

Lots of fabulous memories stand out St Rose Primary School had a big ring a around and at least 20 full cartons arrived that kids had given freely; their special bears clothes and books. One father turned up the next day, apparently a very old Christening Dress had been mistakenly packed, we found it!!!

A lawyer Richard Smallwood had driven his 4 wheel drive up and down his neighborhood arriving with car loads and car loads of new blankets, sheets and much more. The Warringah Of commerce were fantastic, only one member of the Marysville Chamber had survived the fires.

Local residents had cleaned out their cosmetics their bathrooms and sent all new unopened beautiful perfume and toiletries. Make up etc.

Helen from Yoga Boga came with more carloads and stuffed money into my hand some one had given us for petrol!

With the sorting still going strangers were buying me lunch coming in offering phone numbers if we needed more help.

A lovely Collaroy Thai Restaurant Noakkai Thai donated all of the tips for that whole month and lots of lovely clothing.

Clients and friends like Michele Spur and her boys  just turned up. Catherine Parry for their next Xmas wrapped up stacks of boy and girl Kris Kringles and little Ben at the only restaurant left standing handed them out to each child, for a new Christmas.

Radio talk back time gave the guys a good omelet recipe they loved it! So much so they had a read, we talked about Marysville, the guys bought me heaps of windup radios to distribute! Fantastic!

As was Terry Rooke driving the truck with all the gear and I in my Station Wagon headed of to Marysville but the roads were blocked to Alexander and Healesville so we headed to Euroa and stored it, then they took it on the back roads and it was delivered to the Marysville Co op where people could just come in and choose.

I have to say the strangest time was during my volunteering time at the Black Spur Hotel, Marysville where I cooked for 30-60 people who were visiting the area and on the other side of the grounds was the shop where survivors would come to get some clothes / shoes/ linen and disappear quietly.

Nira from Boobah swimwear in West End Queensland sent hundreds of swimsuits down. Ironically we arrived with her present on the day the new pool was opened that was on my second trip down, Ian Telfer lent me his ute!

Marysville is quietly reviving and I do thank you for your participation and gift and do hope you enjoy “Pans On Fire”!

Blessings Genevieve/ Leonie’s sister.

(PS hope you do get to Marysville one day soon)

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2 Responses to When Past & Present Collide – THANKYOU

  1. Hi Inspiring Women, I found your blog through a brief comment left on our Pans on Fire Recovery youtube. It’s hard for me to directly thank all the people who gave their time and assets for Marysville as described here, because in 2009 we were secondary residents of Marysville – we didn’t ‘lose the lot’ needing clothes and the emergency assistance that you freely gave. But I can express a deep gratitude for everything you gave the people (most of the band) and town that I love in helping in their immediate recovery and the path to rebuilding.
    We married in Marysville and had our first two children there – my husband’s job took us away but this was to be temporary and we kept the house until able to return. Like almost all houses in Marysville it was lost, but the fire brought to light the desperate wish to be living back at Marysville. So I joined the steelpan band as an act of reconnection but it became much more than that – from the first beautiful sound that bounced back from the steel pan every horrible thing vanished – for 2 hrs we would be in another world and in the words of our own Inspiring band leader Rita Seethaler, we may have become a bit addicted 🙂
    It seems almost everyone in Marysville plays (or at least has tried) a steelpan now. As well as showing that Marysville is alive and thriving (and please come back!) in playing at festivals around Victoria we have the special at-home gigs. We played for the opening of band member Sharen’s Dalrymples guest cottages http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkRGJ9LdqaI and for the re-opening of band member Julia’s Marysville Lollyshop http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu84mFmI_ac On a magic night for the entire community we played at the re-lighting of the beautiful Steavenson Falls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IkXyW-k1k0 The pans have become part of Marysville. On April 12-14 Marysville is hosting the 1st Australian Steelband Festival – bands will come from around Aus, from NZ and we even expect one from Oman! as well as invited musicians from the home of steel panning in Trinidad. http://ozpans.com/
    Inspiring Women have played a very significant part in Marysville’s recovery to the point of being able to give as a Tourist Town again. Now I see the fires in Tassie and wonder how to help – unless there is a way in it can be difficult to know how to do it. Thank you so much for responding to Genevieve.
    Kind regards, and thanks,
    Madeleine Love
    On behalf of Pans of Fire
    http://www.trianglesteelbands.com

  2. Hello Madeleine,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!
    There are so many stories from here about where and who donated, too many to mention. Though the logistics of getting a whole shop full of donations was incredible, especially a removalist trucking company who donated a massive truck and driver to drive the majority of the items down and then our ladies drove down afterwards with a large van of the rest that we couldn’t fit into the truck! The horse owner community also sent in items for the distressed and homeless animals….the list just went on.

    Every time we got a call asking for specific items ie suits for funerals, the locals here just went searching, it was incredible. Another call I remember was for phone rechargers, as people had fled their homes with their phone but had forgotten the rechargers- the Travelodge at Brookvale had boxes of them that they could donate from visitors that had left them behind that were never reclaimed…..
    An unknown solar company in Brookvale (that we hadn’t heard of) donated (thanks to Terry) solar rechargers and solar torches…the stories were endless. It just amazed us.

    We are so happy to hear that the rebuilding is continuing and will encourage the locals to consider Marysville as a place to visit this year.

    Continue the joy of making music, you have beautiful surroundings to inspire you – Sue.