Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre


Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre

The Ash Wednesday Bushfire and Education Centre: place of learning about events during bushfire. Gardens: place of reflection about the loss fires bring.

The centre is located an old kindergarten in Cockatoo's McBride Street, itself a part of the Ash Wednesday Bushfire history.

Some would say the scene of a bushfire miracle.

On Ash Wednesday, February 16, 1983, fire exploded into Cockatoo about 7.30pm. As the sirens sounded, many townsfolk, mainly women, children and the elderly, fled to the kinder for sanctuary. When the flames swept across them and the building filled with smoke, they lay on the floor with wet towels over their heads.

Ash Wednesday bushfires

The Ash Wednesday bushfires were a series of bushfires that occurred in south-eastern Australia on 16 February 1983, which was Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar. Within twelve hours, more than 180 fires fanned by winds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph) caused widespread destruction across the states of Victoria and South Australia.

In Victoria, 47 people died, while in South Australia there were 28 deaths. This included 14 CFA and 3 CFS volunteer fire-fighters who died across both states that day. Ash Wednesday was one of Australia's costliest natural disasters. Over 3,700 buildings were destroyed or damaged and 2,545 individuals and families lost their homes. Livestock losses were very high, with over 340,000 sheep, 18,000 cattle and numerous native animals either dead or later destroyed.

Ash Wednesday Memorial Centre

This memorial centre at Cockatoo will provide residents with a place to remember those who lost their lives or were affected by the Ash Wednesday bushfires, which tore through the township in 1983. The fires claimed the lives of six people and destroyed much of the Cockatoo township.

The centre will pay tribute to the efforts of firefighters and other emergency services workers during the fires, and will also educate visitors on how to protect themselves against the threat of bush fires.

The Ash Wednesday Bush fire Education Centre is being built at the site of the former kindergarten in McBride Street, Cockatoo. The roof of the former kindergarten was damaged during the 1983 fires, and the building was left unused for many years as a result. The site has great significance to the local community as around 300 residents took shelter in the building during the fires.

The new memorial centre retains the kindergarten’s original concrete slab and 12-sided steel framework. It will feature memorial plaques, historical and bushfire education displays, artworks and a barbecue and shelter. A reflective garden will also be planted and landscaped; featuring a Corymbia ficifolia tree (red flowering gum) planted by the late Princess of Wales and Prince of Wales during their visit to Cockatoo in March 1983.

Open Days & Times

To be advised

 
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