On a brighter note

Submitted: Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 17:00
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From today's Herald Sun

THE "No Camping" signs are about to come down, but not everybody believes Victoria's High Country will ever bounce back from this season's bushfire disaster.

One resident of a fire-ravaged settlement believes his home town is about to become a ghost town.
But other people in other towns are talking recovery.

Not only the recovery of the seared bushland, but economic recovery.

Throughout the fire regions the clean-up is continuing.

Navy personnel from HMAS Cerberus have been touring Mansfield Shire, clearing the burnt remains of homes and sheds into skips provided by the council to give the rebuilding program a head start.

Across the fire areas new power poles have sprung up, replacing the burnt ones and strung with new cabling.

Road repairs are underway all over the shire. Along creeks and riverbanks, especially close to roads and tracks, reclamation and make-safe work is taking place.

At the famed Kevington Hotel the entertainment is about to kick off again after a financially crushing couple of months for the owners.

Tomorrow cover band Credence Clearwater Recycled will rock the Goulburn River valley in the first big night to be staged at the pub since the fires raged up and down the Mansfield-Woods Point Rd.

Bar worker Leanne Haley said there had been days since the fires were controlled and the road reopened when not one person had come into the historic bar.

"We're hoping Saturday goes well, so the word gets round that we're back in business," she said yesterday.

"We've had some people come through here thinking the pub had actually burned down and they're surprised to find it still standing.

"It was the quietest Christ-

mas we've ever seen. And even though our camping ground has been open for weeks, nobody knows."

A further 25km along the dirt towards Woods Point, Gaffney's Creek resident John Sligo said nature might be making a comeback, but he doubts the town has a long-term future.

"I reckon it's knackered," he summed up.

"We were burned out on December 14, and lost 13 houses and buildings.

"Then on February 14 we got flooded out, then flooded again on the 16th and 21st.

"There are people who want to rebuild, but they're being stopped because of things like heritage overlays and new regulations about septics and sewerage.

"Even if you're insured, the new rules mean you have to allow $10,000 for a new toilet.

"Now tell me, who would take out a policy including 10 grand for a dunny?"

But downbeat Mr Sligo, who battled a wall of fire to save his own home, is in the minority along the Mansfield-Woods Point Rd.

Most are fighting back, confident their lost properties, lost incomes
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