Shane’s recovery from the fires is astonishing

Shane welcomed us with tea and strawberry cake, which a friendly neighbour dropped off.

Two men standing on verandah of house

Revisiting Shane, the Kangaroo Island Garlic Farmer

Where we sat on the verandah of his new home, we could still see the remnant of the devastating bushfires everywhere.  Shane’s optimism and positive energy are larger than life, and it is hard to believe that he lost everything except his garlic harvested a few weeks before and two beloved dogs. His recovery from the fires is astonishing.

Community spirit

We asked him where did his energy come from. Shane did not hesitate to give all the credit to the local community spirit, gestures of goodwill by neighbours, local businesses and charities. The support and solidarity of the KI residents achieve goals and objectives aligned with each participant.

“I knew that I would be fine when I saw that my garlic, which I harvested 2 weeks earlier, was safe. But there was no time for rest or reflection at the charred ruins of my home on January 3.”

The fires were still raging, so the farmer, wool classer and firefighter got straight back on the fire truck and continued the fight, trying to prevent others suffering the same fate.

The far-reaching consequences of the fire on his own life would have to wait for the crisis to pass.

He found a bed for a few hours each night, either with mates or at the Parndana Country Fire Services station, and continued working from dawn until midnight, battling the blazes which still threatened homes and property across the western half of the island.

Fireman who lost everything

Shane lost his home while he was out fighting the Kangaroo Island bushfires as a volunteer fireman.

Greater appreciation for the smaller things in life

“I had to start all over after losing my home. I lived in a small caravan on my farm, the cold, wet winter was coming and I knew that I needed to rebuild my house. After the fires, I have a greater appreciation for the smaller things in life. I appreciate the space in my new home, having hot water and electricity.”

House burned by Kangaroo Island bushfires

Devastation after the bushfires.

He counts himself very lucky

Shane took us for a tour of his garlic field and shed where he operates his business, Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic. His crops received plenty of rain and will be ready to harvest this December. Although his new garlic planter, of which he is very proud of, arrived late for this year’s planting season he will be able to use it the next planting season.

With the KI visitor restrictions due to COVID, he counts himself very lucky that he can operate his business online and is busy with a few big orders.

When it was time for us to leave, Shane sends us away with a few jars of his famous KI Garlic Salt.

Thank you, Shane, your tenacity is an inspiration to all of us. We will keep cheering you on and follow your progress.

Ways to support Kangaroo Island

We also invite you to reach out today to the magical Kangaroo Island. Communities relying on tourism have suffered amidst COVID-19. Even if you can’t travel now, there are other ways to express solidarity with the KI small businesses by shopping online or making a donation.

Please look at the video where we interviewed Shane here.