Peter and his partner Nirbeeja lost their home in last summer's bushfires. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Aysha Leo
“I expected that I’d be in a house pretty much now,” says Nirbeeja.
But for Nirbeeja and her partner Peter, having a house is still a long-term dream. Last summer’s fires destroyed almost half of Kangaroo Island. Peter and Nirbeeja escaped with their lives and some essentials, but everything else was lost.
For the past 12 months, they’ve sheltered in a camper trailer, a van, a tent and a temporary accommodation pod.
“There were some really trying times, times where we were just about at the bottom of our patience and resilience. It was a real struggle,” says Peter.
They were living self-sufficiently before the fires, which meant that the task of rebuilding has been particularly challenging and time-consuming. From getting debris cleared, to installing a power source – first a generator, now solar – putting in plumbing, rebuilding orchard enclosures, and getting their new shed equipped with everything they need to live day-to-day until they can get a house rebuilt, this year has been hard work.
The clearing of debris took much longer than expected because so many homes were destroyed. “We couldn’t do anything until that rubbish was gone. We were coming here twice a week and were still in that highly emotional stage, stressed to our eyeballs. We’d put out some feed and water stations for the animals and that’s all we had the energy to do. We were just exhausted,” recalls Nirbeeja.