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  • Writer's pictureHammo

Bolaro Forge, reborn from the ashes

As most of you would know, the devastating fires that impacted most of the east coast of Australia did not spare Bolaro Forge, the home of the Forge Through Program. Although the event itself was devastating it has become a test of our resilience, a revealer of support and a measure of dedication to rebuild and grow.

I wont be shy in telling you all, that while I sat in the ashes after the fire had passed, an overwhelming sense of dread was rising as I contemplated the path out of the ash to life as we once knew it. The thought of the workload ahead of us combined with the stress of the many weeks leading up to the fire was weighing heavily on my resolve. It was only when I acknowledged that I have rebuilt my life from the ashes of my career, I thought "I have got this, we can do this". It was a chance to demonstrate the things I have learnt on my journey, the time to put all the training into practice and crack on with it.

With the help of my ever supportive wife "Gina" and my right hand man "Bottsy", we set about planning our way forward. Rallying the troops and accepting offers of help that were forthcoming a direction forward became evident. I have always been that bloke that is reluctant, almost embarrassed, to accept help. I have since learnt that this mindset is counterproductive to growth. As the offers of assistance came forward we gratefully accepted and planned our first working party at the property.

Plenty of work was done, plenty of jokes shared and plenty of drinks consumed in the arvo through the night to the early morning. There was a few dusty bodies on Sunday morning I can tell you. The help came from far afield, we had a heap of people involved with the program come back to help, civvies who admire what we are doing come to give their time and new friends I had never met turned up with tools and energy. I would also like to acknowledge Ross from Rifleman Knives who auctioned a knife to raise some money towards the working bee and rebuild, an ex SF soldier who supports what Forge Through is all about.

Although the clean up was looking like a monumental task, this assistance really helped us to get back on track and has shortened the time frame to get courses running and people back through the front gate. We have been at it for the last few months and have received further assistance from members of the local community who are aware of what we do here. Although I have no affiliation with the church, nor do I consider myself a religious man, we received a very generous donation from a local church who paid for an excavator to come in and clean up. Their reason behind the donation was to help people who help others, a pretty noble gesture I believe.

Through every event there is things to learn, a post battle assessment of sorts. We have discovered weaknesses in our fire defenses which we will rectify, we have discovered what equipment worked well and what was lacking. We have discovered how terrain worked for and against us and will take measures to negate those risks. Most importantly I have learned valuable lessons of mate ship, support and assistance.

I have learnt that declining offers of assistance robs others of the joy of giving, that feeling I get when I have helped people through the program. I have learnt that no matter how monumental the task there is no glory in going it alone, yet there is mate ship and bonding in conquering the objective together.

As I sit here and look over what Bolaro is today, I am humbled by the experience, the lesson.

Change, more often than not, is born from adversity. When we are comfortable the need to change is not a pressing thought, however there is no growth in staying stagnant. There is still ash on the ground, there are still scars on the trees, they stand as a reminder of what was. But what I see is the green grass, the fresh growth on the trees, the full dam. All signs of growth, the future!

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