• Hannah Phillips

Remembering the Pinery Fires


Two years ago, a catastrophic bushfire that burned for a week ripped through SA's Lower Mid North and west Barossa Valley regions, immediately north of Gawler.

The damage was extensive, with 91 homes, 288 non-residential structures, 93 pieces of farm machinery and 98 other vehicles completely destroyed.

Rural produce also perished in the fire, with 53,000 poultry and 17,500 units of livestock destroyed, along with $40 million worth of fodder and unharvested grains.

People's lives were also affected - with 90 people hospitalised, 5 of which suffered critical injuries.

Tragically, two people were killed in the fire - Janet Hughes, 56, who perished while fleeing in a vehicle outside Hamley Bridge and Allan Tiller, 69, who was taken while fighting the fire on a neighbour's property in Pinery itself.

Two years on we remember the loss to our regional communities, but also look to restoring and rebuilding them.

The former sporting complex at Grace Plains was one of many structures destroyed by the fire, after taking the full brunt of the blaze which passed through the run-down tennis courts and small shed at the site called 'Moquet Lee'.

The site will now become a memorial for the region to honour Alan Tiller and Janet Hughes, as well as showcase the history of Pinery, right back to the 1860s.

Grace Plains farmer Peter March, who's house was spared by the fire told the Stock Journal what a contribution the memorial will make to the community.

“As this area was already a memorial to Fred Nairn, who was killed during World War I, it was agreed that this site would be a suitable place to create a permanent combined memorial.

“The church has closed, the tennis club folded, so what we want to do is keep the district community here and this was the ideal project to do it with.”

Allan Tiller's wife, Jenny, also commented on the events of 2015 saying: "Everyone has been affected in [a] different way from the fire, but it has bought a close-knit community even closer in supporting each other through these hard times.

“That will continue on for a long time as the memories linger on.”

Two years on, we remember.

Image Source - Flow FM, Pinery Fire images taken at various places. Red smoke was taken at Kapunda. Service at the crop taken 12 months ago on the first anniversary.