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Evacuees weigh up what’s lost, and what’s saved


It showed his house intact, but his treasured man-cave – with a pool table and big TV, and all the standard trimmings – burnt to the ground.

“It’s a massive relief – we thought the house was gone,” he says.

“I reckon the CFA must have been there protecting the house.”

Palmer is one of about 30 evacuees stationed at the Bairnsdale Football Club’s relief centre.

They have come from all over East Gippsland, including Bruthen, Clifton Creek and Metung.

As thunder could be heard overheard on Tuesday, the relief centre was quiet and anxious, as locals waited to hear news on whether they have a home to return to.

On Monday, the footy oval and surrounding function room couldn’t accommodate the hundreds of East Gippsland locals seeking refuge.

The idyllic Bairnsdale Racecourse was used as a spillover venue, while many have gone to stay with friends and family.

Some spent Monday night in caravans, some in cars, and others on makeshift beds in the club change rooms.

Marian Brandum will bring in the new year, and her 84th birthday, in a tent on the footy club’s oval with her daughter-in-law Sally, as well as her dogs and birds.

Marian Brandum withe her daughter Sally, dogs and pet galah.

Marian Brandum withe her daughter Sally, dogs and pet galah.Credit:Joe Armao

“It’s something different isn’t it. Can’t get drunk tonight, can I?” she jokes.

“And it’s New Year’s Eve tonight, so it’s a double whammy.”

Sally’s husband is back defending the family home in the coastal town of Metung, where an emergency warning is in place.

Fire hasn’t reached the town yet, but is only kilometres away.

“He’s staying there fighting. He’s very brave,” says Marian.

“We’re just hoping for the best.”

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