Help Save 2x Fire Affected Couple's Dream Day

ROUND TWO: BATTLING THE BLAZE

Kieran and Renee thought they had the weekend to themselves. All five kids were out of the house, safe and sound with their respective maternal or paternal parents. We all knew there was a heightened risk of danger. The planes and choppers had been water bombing for days on end. Yes there were bushfires burning. Everything seemed under control, and given we'd all just been through the evacuations in Round 1, we thought we knew the drill. Stay mindful of the alerts, stay in touch with each other, and get ready to leave if need be.

By 3am however, Kieran and Renee knew otherwise. The fires burning in inaccessible Defense Land had gained momentum and were rapidly advancing on our mountain homes. Without knowing how or when the decision was made, they'd already been battling the blaze for several hours and the situation continued to escalate, becoming increasingly tense and dangerous. In the days to come, new footage would show exactly how precarious their situation had been.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

Channel Nine News Report




Renee and Kieran side by side. Hosing from their back deck, sprinklers going, working frantically with the Rural and Lower Beechmont fire crews until it became unsafe to continue. They fought on valiantly, on auto-plot, until Police drew the line in the sand and ordered residents out. Exhausted, the couple reluctantly drove away as the unpredictable embers continued to dance and spray over and around their newly renovated home.

PLEASE NO!

This home that had taken almost a year to renovate and three years to save for. This home that could now house all seven of their blended family members, where finally each one had a space to call their own. The arduous renovation that had finally produced an actual bedroom for the soon-to-be-wed Dad of two and Mum of three, providing welcome relief from the pull out bed they'd been sleeping on for years in the living room.

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I woke at 4am after listening to the alerts all day to see Renee's Facebook post; the simple video caused my stomach to sink, flames licking at their back door, embers flying towards the camera. The trepidation and fear in Renee's otherwise sunny and confident voice. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, my mind racing. 

ROUND ONE: BINNA BURRA MOUNTAIN LODGE


The Backstory. Venue Gone. Income Gone.

43284748_1573440394331539_r.jpegBinna Burrra Lodge Before and After - Photo Courtesy ABC

In the first round of our mountain fires, many of you would be aware, we lost our Heritage Listed Binna Burra Lodge established in 1933, the 2 Alcheringa Homes and 30% of the Sky Lodges. This was a heartbreaking blow to all in our mountain community. The Lodge had been the traditional home of Beechmont State Schools Year 6 Graduation Night (a highly anticipated event on the mountain social calendar). Alcheringa, a sacred place where some go to find themselves and say 'Surrender', and the magical place where couples go to exchange their vows and say 'Forever'. Renee and Kieran were one of those couples booked in to share their vows there.

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But that's not the half of it. Renee had actually won the cleaning contract for Alcheringa and and two of the Sky Lodges some years back and this was about 70% of her weekly income. Preparing the Sky Lodges and stately mountain getaway homes for visitors from all around the world had helped her pay for the much needed renovations on their own tiny mountain home that was bulging at the seams with kids and stuff.

The steady work would also now pay for their wedding in February 2020. 

You know, she never even complained about losing the income or losing the one place she'd always dreamed of getting married. True to form, Renee was more concerned about the Groom family, the loss of history, the needs of others.  As the fires had been raging at the top and destroying property and frightening residents, Renee and Kieran had opened their home to those fleeing in the night. At peak, they had some 30 people in their home. That's just the kind of people they are and why I've created this Go Fund Me Campaign. If anyone deserves their dream wedding it's these two!


FACEBOOK POST Renee September 15 ·  

I've had the honour and privilege to be taking care of this incredible unique amazing house for the beautiful Groom family and guests for the last 2 years ... driving up to Alcheringa and Binna Burra at least 3-4 times a week was always a wonderful drive ... it's like being on top of the world up there. The koalas .. resident goanna and birds galore .. the view depending on the weather .. with views of rolling green mountains as far as the eye can see and sparkly sea of the coast...clouds would fill the valley and all you could see was white...when Kieran asked me to marry him Alcheringa was the place it was to be...I couldn't wait to share my magical day in this magical place in this ancient land with the people I love.. I still can't believe it's gone but as our amazing little community has shown together we will rebuild and take care of each other.

Thank you to everyone for their thoughts love and prayers during this time it's been a truly emotional rollercoaster...having families here in our home who didn't know if their homes would be there when they returned was heartbreaking..having our own evacuation alert on the Monday at 10.30pm at night was so scary..my stomach still drops a little when I hear the helicopter going overhead as they are still putting out fires behind us...I've also watched in awe at our incredible little mountain community and how selfless and generous people are in times of tragedy ..my kitchen filled with people making sandwiches for the incredible firefighters who have been working so hard to protect us all..people dropping food off to help feed the masses..offers of beds and clothing etc ..friends who organized fire watches and alerted us on the hour to keep our minds at ease with what was happening ...getting all our kiddies together at the park for a huge play date has had such a positive impact on them...I feel so blessed to live in a place filled with many awesome people. Kieran and Asta I can never thank you both enough for your love support and humour through all of this...I love you both without end xxx


That was Renee's post in September. Little did she know Round 2 was coming and it would put her and Kieran literally in the line of fire.

LOWER BEECHMONT FIRES

Channel 7 News Report



QPS Police thermal footage would later show how ferocious and vast this fire front actually was. You can see the wall of fire approaching their house flames roaring and embers flying, approaching the entire row of homes on North Road like an army of fiery demons. Renee commented this morning that if she had known at the time how truly dangerous the situation was it may have been an entirely different story. If the kids had been home it most certainly would have been a different story. 

LIFE GOES ON

It's Monday today. The last few days have been exhausting for everyone. Remaining on high alert for days on end, as helicopters circle and water bomb, windows shake, the radio blasting fire warning alerts and updates, is a seriously stressful state to be in. I know first hand how it feels but I can't even fathom how those two felt as they stood on their back deck in the middle of the night hoses in hand, doing their feeble best to beat back a ferocious beast. And today they face the job of cleaning up. The fresh paint smell replaced by the smoky memory of a terrifying moment in time. The view to the ashen garden an ominous reminder of how close they came to losing everything. But if they hadn't stepped up, who knows what may have transpired? Their home was acting like a gateway to the fire spreading and their vigilance perhaps the very thing that saved all of the houses in that street. I know Kieran and Renee didn't do it to become the 'local heroes' it's just who they are and what they do.

It's weird when you go through something like this. After it's over, the next day is almost too normal. Kieran out the door at 5am for an average 12 hour day. Renee with the job of 5 kids breakfasts, lunches and complaints/motivation desk, then straight to whatever jobs she's managed to cobble together to replace the lost Binna Burra income. Out all day and then back to the kids, homework, dinners, baths and then onto the job of cleaning away some more of the fire signs. And in the days that unfold they'll still find time to lend an ear to a scared or sad friend, give a hand to a needy or infirm neighbour, contribute to the school, give to the community, and soldier on with grace, joy and gratitude.

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Renee and Kieran do so much for so many others. If you're a part of our community, you'll no doubt have been touched many times by their kindnesses. I certainly have. Now they're tired and a bit behind the eight-ball. Their date fast approaches and they don't have the money to make it happen. Christmas is around the corner and that's a lot of kids to buy presents and food for! The loss of the Binna Burra venue was crushing enough emotionally for the couple but then Renee's lost income as a double whammy was a critical blow. Now battling blazes in the back garden. Surely that's enough for any couple to bear? At a time when most brides are all about Me, Me, Me, Renee has been all about the We. At a time when many grooms-to-be are tiring of their emerging Bridezillas, Kieran's admiration, pride and concern for his woman have been on show for all to see. They're a great team and a real true love story.

I'll close my pitch to Help Save Their Dream Day with this.

WE LOVE TRUE LOVE

I see true, sustainable, love rarely, but when I do I can literally feel it in my bones. You know it when you see it. It's something easy and natural, private yet shared, always accompanied by laughter and genuine hugs. You feel warmed by its presence and experience a renewed hope that 'Good' does indeed triumph in the end. Real love, true love, makes us all feel safe.

I've been lucky enough to marry the man of my dreams and our wedding day is one of the greatest highlights of my life. I savour the memory of it. I can still feel it. The pure joy. Literally floating on air in a dreamlike state. The waves of love from our friends and family. The music, the lights, the food. Every detail perfect and perfectly preserved in my memory. Every year celebrated and revisited and revered.

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NEW BEGINNINGS

This is what I want for Renee and Kieran. A Dream Day so magnificent that it hoses down, and usurps those harrowing fire memories and replaces them with the thrill and excitement of planning the celebrations. A glorious blessing of an event to be anticipated by all , the shining beacon to pull them forward day by day.  As you can appreciate, when you get a couple like Kieran and Renee who are so interwoven in the fabric of our community, their wedding day is a day for all of us here on the mountain. We all get to share in the excitement. We all get to heal a little more from the stresses and challenges we've faced together. We all have something to look forward to. Good does indeed triumph. Love wins.

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Renee has always talked about her whimsical garden theme and I can't think of anything more appropriate. After the blackening of the earth, new growth appears and brings hope and anticipation for brighter days ahead. With your help we can make it happen.

Can't you just see her twirling around in her dream dress, Kieran's eyes shining as he watches his beautiful new wife relish in their Dream Day?

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$20K ASAP - THE FEB 2020 DATE IS RACING CLOSER

The date is racing closer and there's so much to be organised and paid for. The Dress. The Suits. The Catering. The Flowers. The Music. The Cake! They can't do it without our help. Please help make it happen. Every dollar counts! 

With love and gratitude, 
Sari

Donations ()

  • Amy Marshall 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 4 mos
  • Kye Hammond 
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 4 mos
  • Hayley Small 
    • $75 
    • 6 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Sari Mustonen-Kirk 
Organizer
Renee Carlaw 
Beneficiary
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