Fire on the Limestone Plains/Fire Towers

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A History of ACT Fire Towers[edit | edit source]

The Canberra Times reported "that a fire lookout has been established on the top of Mount Stromlo, and is in telephonic communication with Head Quarters at Acton".[1]

Over subsequent years, fire towers were established at Uriarra, Kowen, Parkwood and Mt. Aggie; Mt Aggie being erected in February 1941. The Canberra Times of Saturday 13 December 1941 reported that the Bush Fire Council had established three new look-outs at Mt. Brindabella, Black Spring Mountain, and Pierce's Creek.[2] The look-out at Brindabella Mountain was built into the top of an ancient Snow Gum.[3]

The Canberra Times, Monday 2 November 1942 reported a new lookout was set up on Mr C R Kilby's property which was in the Hall district, and was provided with a telephone.[4]

The ACT Bush Fire Annual Report of 1942-43 noted that a fire tower was erected on Bag Range. When interviewed by Matthew Higgins, a noted historian of the Canberra region, Ted Kennedy – the primary builder of the hut cited the fear of Japanese aircraft dropping incendiaries to start bushfires, as the reason for building the tower. The tower with its adjacent shelter hut was staffed during the 1940's by Vince Oldfield and Billy Jemmett, alternately, each on 16-day shifts.[3]

Extension of Fire Tower System and Bag Range (N.S.W.) Tower.

The fire tower system has been extended by the erection of two additional towers. The first of these is situated on Bag Range at an elevation of approximately 4,100 feet. The site of the tower is approximately 18 miles from Stromlo by air line, but so in accessible that it takes five hours to reach it on horseback from the nearest point on the Two Sticks road.

To overcome this difficulty of access a lookout man will be required to remain on duty over periods when fire danger is present, and a hut for his accommodation has been provided.

A portable radio transceiver set will be made available and a wind generating set has been installed to provide the necessary electric current for the set.

Members of the Cavan and Mullion Volunteer Fire Brigade made an invaluable labour contribution by felling trees which needed clearing.[5]

In 1948 a fire lookout was established at Bulls Head.[3] The annual report of the A.C.T. Bush Fire Council, 1954-55 reported the replacement of the existing fire lookout at Kowen Forest with a new tower. Between 1955 and 1965 a fire tower was established on Mt. McDonald.

In late 1972 the Department of the Interior installed a fibreglass fire tower lookout cabin on Mount Tennant, near Tharwa. The cabin was erected on a 20 ft stand on top of the 4,544 ft mountain with the intention of providing an extensive view of the Canberra plain, from Tharwa to Black Mountain.

On 5 October 1994, the new One Tree Hill fire-detection tower was opened by the Minister for Urban Services, David Lamont. The tower - at the northern end of the hilly range behind the village of Hall – was the latest addition to the fire-tower detection network operating around the ACT region.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "BUSH FIRES MEASURES FOR CONTROL". The Canberra Times. 18 November 1926. 
  2. "BUSH FIRE MENACE". The Canberra Times. 13 December 1941. 
  3. a b c Matthew Higgins, Rugged Beyond Imagination: Stories from an Australian Mountain Region, published June 2009
  4. "BUSH FIRES". The Canberra Times. 2 November 1942. 
  5. A.C.T. Bush fire Council Report 1942-43