Paddocks turned to ash, dust as farmers begin to rebuild
FIRES are a fact of life in the Australian bush, but that doesn't make them any less devastating.
Bushfires have ripped through the Lockyer Valley in the past three months, with Mulgowie and Thornton some of the hardest hit areas.
Hobby farmer John Brander's 80 acre cattle property on Main Camp Creek Road was one of the worst impacted in the area, with all but one paddock destroyed.
"A significant amount of grazing land has been lost to the fires - they've burnt back to dirt," Mr Brander said.
The retiree runs 30-head of Droughtmaster cattle on his country and said he takes pride in his operation.
The Branders had been managing through the drought by supplementing the cattle with hay.
But with his paddocks gone, Mr Brander is reliant on hay - and has made the difficult decision to destock.
"All my stock are being sold - and I have a breeding stock which I would dearly like to hang on to," he said.
Due to the hard work by emergency services, including water bombers he credits with saving some of his paddocks from total destruction, no homes were lost to the blaze last month.
But he, like many others in the area, are left with the mammoth task of repairing kilometres of fencing damaged or destroyed by the blaze.
"I'm fortunate - I've got a bit of fencing damage but I can probably fix it up in a week," he said. "A lot of people have got quite extensive fencing damage, and that's not going to be fixed in a week, it's going to take years."
While he and every farmerwere praying for rain, he also worried what will happen when the rains do finally come.
With so much pasture now nothing but ash and dust, erosion and loss of top soil was going to be yet another hit to the area, and made his decision to destock easier.
"We've put so much work into this property to make it weed free and suitable grazing land - but we don't want to turn it back to dirt," he said.
Despite the hardships Mr Brander is facing, he's trying to stay positive, and had nothing but praise for the fire fighters who risked their lives to protect properties during the blaze. Mr Brander praised landowners who gave up precious water from their dams for water bombers to use, saying they deserved credit, but were often over looked.
But he also believed landowners needed to take more responsibility in preparing their land for fire season.
With more people moving to rural areas, he said they needed to put in the work to reduce their land's bushfire risk, protecting not just themselves, but the whole community.
"If you want to live in this environment then you've got to be prepared to put the work in to make it safe for yourself and anyone else that has to fight it," he said.