Civil engineering company provided quick relief to bushfire-affected farmers

Landholder Andrew 'Curl' Jeffries with Civilex operator Grigor Driscoll. Mr Driscoll was using a posi-track to clear tracks.
Landholder Andrew 'Curl' Jeffries with Civilex operator Grigor Driscoll. Mr Driscoll was using a posi-track to clear tracks.

In the wake of the bushfires, private companies are filling the gaps for affected farmers waiting to receive government funding or insurance payouts.

Civic engineering company, Civilex, had the skills and resources to not only donate money, but to directly assist the Upper Murray community of Jingellic after the fires swept through.

The company sent excavators and posi-tracks to the area, along with their operators, to spend a week clearing access and damaged fence lines.

Civilex Group asset manager, Kris Bogdanovski said it was important to the company that it was working directly with farmers.

"We've allowed our guys to work under the farmer to do whatever relief work they need," Mr Bogdanovski said.

"It's mainly been clearing the access tracks, making sure burnt out trees are knocked over safely, as well as clearing up and allowing access to rebuild fences."

Civilex area manager Steve 'Macca' McInerney said for the operators, the experience had been incredibly rewarding.

"They work from 6am to 6pm, come in covered in soot, but they love it," Mr McInerney said.

"It's something that's quite out of the ordinary for them and they're happy to be giving back, they're giving something to someone struggling.

"When I saw the boys, they all walked tall, that's the best way to describe it."

It's just nice to know someone's thinking of you, you're not left on your own little perch somewhere.

Barney Pollard, Farmer

Posi-track operator, Grigor Driscoll said the highlight was working with the locals.

"It's been rugged terrain, hard-going and hot, but it's been awesome," Mr Driscoll said.

The feeling was mutual, Civilex has been welcomed with open arms by Jingellic residents.

"Coming from the city and seeing such a tight knit community and the support from all the locals, it's been great," Mr Bogdanovski said.

"The local pub offered us accommodation for the week and helped us out with meals, the general store helped us out with food too, farmers helped us move equipment and made sure our guys felt at home."

Greater Hume Shire Council's Margaret Killalea said they were thrilled when they heard the company had offered its services.

"We were absolutely on-side to try and make it happen and I think we've done that," Mrs Killalea said.

The work Civilex did was particularly valuable since the state and federal governments had taken their time declaring Greater Hume Shire residents eligible for bushfire recovery grants, worth up to $75,000 for primary producers.

Cattle farmer Barney Pollard with Civilex excavator operator, Michael Humphreys. The fire started at the back of Mr Pollard's property.

Cattle farmer Barney Pollard with Civilex excavator operator, Michael Humphreys. The fire started at the back of Mr Pollard's property.

Jingellic producers classified as Greater Hume residents were unable to access the grants until last Monday, while their neighbours who are part of the Snowy Valleys shire had been eligible for weeks.

Cattle farmer Barney Pollard said the fire actually started at the back of his property.

"We lost 95 per cent of our grass, a full hay shed and 40 to 50 kilometres of fencing," Mr Pollard said.

Despite this he said, as a Greater Hume resident, he had not found government funding he was eligible for in the first few weeks following the fires.

"I think the fire, not the shire should determine where the funding goes," Mr Pollard said.

He said he was very grateful for the help he had been given by Civilex, which had cleared fence lines for him.

"It will allow me to start putting things back together," Mr Pollard said.

"There's still parts at the back that we can't get to yet, but I had to prioritise, I wanted to get to the closer country first and then we will work our way out.

"It's just nice to know someone's thinking of you, you're not left on your own little perch somewhere."

Jingellic cattle producer Rob Bulle helped coordinate the Civilex visit. He said it was important to share the work Civilex was doing with as many producers as possible.

"We didn't want to get bogged down in clearing every fence and not get to other farms, we've really tried to share it around," Mr Bulle said.

"We thought access and boundaries would be the first priorities.

"There's a lot of people that can't even get to the back of their farms, some people don't even know if their sheep are alive or dead because they can't get in to check."

The company ended up helping at 18 different properties, across Talmalmo, Ournie and Jingellic.

Mr Bogdanovski said they would be sure to return to Jingellic to see how they were going in years to come.

"We've built a few friendships here so I'm sure we'll come back," Mr Bogdanovski said.

This story Private companies fill the gaps in bushfire relief first appeared on The Land.