New Year’s Eve as evacuees

December 31, 2019 by Henry Benjamin
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Martine and Gavin Folden expected their New Year’s Eve to be very busy hosting diners at Betty’s Bar their Kangaroo Valley restaurant but instead, they are camping out 20kms having been evacuated as bushfires threaten their property.

Kangaroo Valley three days ago

Now the Foldens with their two children are sleeping in their caravan in the showground of popular tourist town Berry 2okms from their home on the NSW South Coast and 140kms from Sydney. They are accompanied by two horses,  two dogs and two cats.

Martine told J-Wire: “It’s apocalyptic but we’re coping. We’ve been here a couple of days and we don’t know how long we will have to stay. At least until the fire danger passes at least.”

The Foldens describe their accommodation is having “refugee status”.  She explained: “We have a 1972 caravan which we converted to a coffee bar. We took out the coffee machine out and put in a couple of mattresses.”

Yumi and Cisco Folden and their temporary home

Gavin, Martine and the two children Yumi, 11 and Cisco 9, have no cooking facilities in their temporary home.

The most distressing aspect is how the evacuation has impacted on their restaurant. Martine said: “This is the two week period when we make a large portion of our income. So many businesses are along the coast have been affected by the fires over the last two weeks.”

The Foldens have been permitted to visit their property. Martine added: “I went there this morning to check on a couple of farm animals which had been left. All was fine as the fire has not reached our property as yet. From here at Berry we can see the red glow reflecting in the clouds and the smoke is orange-coloured. It looks surreal.”

Martine said the atmosphere for New year’s Eve “is uneasy”. She added: “Here in the Showground, the festivities are going ahead…without the fireworks, of course. Ironically, our restaurant is a barbecue and a woodfire restaurant so we’re a smokehouse!”

There are a few Jewish families who have holiday homes in the area but the Foldens are the only Jewish evacuees in Berry as far as they know.

Nowra is a thriving town 16kns from Berri. Martine showed us how it looks today.





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