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Kinglake – an inspirational experience

Steve Bridges, CEO of Mid-Comp International, wrote the inspirational text below after visiting bushfire-ravaged Kinglake. Mid-Comp is an Australian developer and supplier of business software solutions that encompass intelligent supply chain, managed availability and IBM systems management.
  • 04 May, 2009 11:20

<p>The true Aussie fighting spirit which has long been woven into folklore is alive and well.</p>
<p>It is nearly two months since February 7th when the Black Saturday bush fires ravaged Victoria, burnt out almost 1 million acres, destroyed many hundreds of homes, wiped entire townships off the map, and cost so many people their lives.</p>
<p>Away from infotech, my hobby is hot rods and custom cars. On Sunday May 3rd I took my 1940 Dodge hot rod to an event entitled 'Amongst the Ashes', held by the recently formed Kinglake Phoenix Rod &amp; Custom Club on a property in the middle of one of the worst hit areas, Kinglake itself. Instead of the usual scenic tour through thick rain forest which is the natural feature of this mountainous terrain, the road leading to the event presented us with utter devastation which has to be seen first hand to truly comprehend its scale.</p>
<p>A local farmer had cleared a paddock on the side of the mountain which had escaped the worst of it, in sharp contrast to the scorched earth of the surrounding area. Although most of them lost everything and are living in makeshift accommodation such as tents and caravans, the Kinglake club were determined to host a gathering of rods and customs which we call a Show &amp; Shine.</p>
<p>The burnt, melted, and twisted hulks of about six of their former pride and joy vehicles had been gathered there as a sort of personal monument. They talked openly about their experiences ... part of the therapy I suppose. It's still very raw for them, and in spite of the bravado it didn't take much to detect that the emotional healing will be work in progress for a while yet. However, they are determined to rebuild, and this event was their way of stating that even though they are down, they're by no means out.</p>
<p>They are taking encouragement from nature itself. After all this time the smell of ash still lingers, which gives you some idea of the intensity of the fire storm. In spite of this, the charcoal coloured landscape is contrasted by millions of green speckles as the rain forest trees commence the regeneration process. On the otherwise barren wasteland of the forest floor, vibrant green fronds defiantly poke out of warped and blackened tree fern stumps. The cycle of life continues for the survivors.</p>
<p>Compared to what these people have been through and are still dealing with on a day-to-day basis, any problems we may face are embarrassingly trivial.</p>
<p>The word was spread amongst the hot rod fraternity, and over 300 of their fellow hot rod and custom car owners from Melbourne turned up to support them. It was an inspirational display of unity which touched us all, making the day an unqualified success. All proceeds are going to local community relief efforts.</p>
<p>I was privileged to win a trophy which Kinglake Phoenix members made from their own mechanical tools recovered from the ashes. It will take pride of place in my home as a constant reminder to keep my problems in perspective, and as inspiration to face adversity with the determination to overcome it.</p>

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