Rebuilding at Wheoh

Updated on Mon, 10/04/2021 - 12:08
Simon Pockley
System of Knowledge
Rebuilding after fire is guided by gratitude that nothing lasts, is finished, or is perfect.
Memory painting by Simon Pockley
Memory painting by Simon Pockley

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On Sunday, 12th January 2013, a bushfire (named Wambelong) escaped from the Warrumbungle National Park. It swept through Wheoh, burning plants, wildlife and the 36 year old hand-made house built on a small sandstone rise among scribbly gums (E. rossii). The impact on our family and Wheoh is most eloquently expressed by my daughter, Bonnie, in two of her own blog posts: In Memoriam (15th January 2013) and The Lonely Bones (19th January 2013).

Our family, as well as visitors, were accustomed to recording thoughts in hand-written journals (dating back to 1975). Sadly, the volume covering the years 2011-2013 was lost in the fire as well as a memory painting (above). Earlier volumes, removed in anticipation of the fire, have now been returned. In July 2013, I began the process of rebuilding and more volumes are being shelved. This, more fire proof and publicly accessible record, consists of 3 minute videos with occasional written posts. It's an attempt to capture the resilience of a fire ecology for family, friends, and anyone attracted to the serenity of reclusion, self-sufficiency and the process of making things out of what comes to hand. If I have a guiding principle it's a sense of gratitude that nothing lasts, is finished, or is perfect.

Thoughts on my own sense of belonging In Place. In 2019, drought records were broken with a mere 167.6 mm annual rainfall (average 600 mm). See 100 years of data 1886-2020.


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