Jack Egan fought valiantly to defend the home he and Cath Bowdler shared at 10 Dale Place – but the fire proved too ferocious, Jack and Cath lost everything. In a powerful protest, his station wagon stood in front of the incinerated remains with the banner 'CLIMATE ACTION NOW…OR?'
Later he dragged his dinghy from the ashes and painted it with the sign ‘WE WANT CLIMATE ACTION’. The burned tinny has been acquired by the National Museum of Australia for its historic collection. It’s part of a collection documenting the horrific 2019-20 bushfire season for future generations.
Jack’s protest – like many Rosedale fire images – has echoed around the world. Listen to Jack and Cath’s harrowing personal story of that castastrophic day
On New Year’s Eve our beloved family home in Dale Place North Rosedale was burned to the ground.
After spending 10 years in England after the war my Polish parents migrated to Canberra in 1956. My mother experienced Canberra, at that time, as a hostile and alien place, hot, freezing and isolating. Her despair was relieved when in their first year in Australia, a work colleague of my father’s took my parents and my two older siblings on a holiday to the far South Coast. From that moment on the bush, the sea air, the wildlife, the stunning beauty of the landscape became her salvation. Dad, a devoted Catholic, would often refer to the bush as his place of worship. From 1957 my parents organised annual holidays in Rosedale, finally affording to buy some land and eventually in 1981 building their own home.
Many visitors to our beautiful beach house would remark on its European charm, its special qualities of tranquillity set amongst a stunning spotted gum forest, the abundant bird life, the close- knit community. When both my parents died, we sprinkled sand from the beach onto their coffins, local shells decorate their graves.
The day after our house burnt to the ground my eldest brother Tom aptly remarked that something in him died that day. Our family home represented renewal for my parents who lost everything in the war, it was our spiritual home, our special place.
My parents John and Enid Falk built this house as a getaway from Canberra around 1960. It had the distinctive architectural (sic) style of Its builder, Mr Miller, of Miller Avenue. There were many Miller houses all over Rosedale, those of North Rosedale all gone now. We were the second house in North Rosedale, after the Pentonys (at 83).
It stood stalwart, strong and forever weatherproof, until now. Miller houses were built to last, in normal times.
Mum moved from Canberra to live at Rosedale, following the death of my father in 1970. She would practise the violin looking out over the bush and the sea and say that she was already in paradise. She died at the house in 2000.
My late sister Sue, my daughter Leah and I were deeply attached to this house. It also brought much joy and solace to many others over the decades and supervised the creation of numerous books, theses, poems, paintings and brilliant ideas.
31 Yowani has been present for my entire life as a safe haven, a place of tranquillity and recovery, a place for family and a heap of friends. Dad and my grandfather built it around 1964 and it has seen five generations of Moellers, from my great grandmother to Hayley Moeller and our kids. It has always had a presence in my mind, knowing I could get to that place of tranquillity at any time. That’s gone now. It will take time to get back to that state of mind about Rosedale I had before the fires. Goodbye my friend. We shall rebuild.
In my wildest thoughts I could not have imagined new years eve 2019. I sat with the Williams having a cup of tea confident we could grab the hose and put out a spot fire or two.
How wrong we were.
When the birds stopped singing and the sky turned orange, we knew things were not right. Fire is so unpredictable, indiscriminate and this one had a mind of its own. There are so many stories of the turn of the year but as I see the beautiful surf still faithfully rolling in, the sun shining on and the trees sprouting new growth I know our Rosedale community will rebuild and renew.