Photos: How Tim Holmes, his wife and five grandchildren endured the Tasmania bushfires
IN Dunalley, a village 30 miles east of Hobart, Tasmania, Tim Holmes saw his wife Tammy and their five grandchildren two-year-old Charlotte, four-year-old Esther, six-year-old Caleb, nine-year-old Liam and eleven-year-old Matilda - hiding for hours under a jetty to escape the bushfires. He took these photos so that his daughter, the child’s mother Bonnie Walker, could see them, maybe. Says Mr Holmes:
“The difficulty was that there was so much smoke and ember really that there was only about probably 200 to 300mm of air above the water. So we were all heads low, water up to our chins, trying to breathe, because the atmosphere was just so incredibly toxic. The fire raged for three hours. Everything was on fire. It was just exploding all over the place, everything … just scorched.”
“We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us. The next thing we knew everything was on fire all around us. By that time I had sent Tammy, the gran, with the children to get down to the jetty because there was no other escape, we couldn’t get off.”
“I ended up having to run through a wooded area on my own, where there was so much smoke and fire I didn’t know where I was, so I just kept running. There was a moment of fear that this could be very dangerous, but I managed to run through and get to the water’s edge, which was a kind of sanctuary. We were relying on the jetty, really. We huddled up in the water, which was cold, we knew it was cold, we played in it the day before. I knew it would be a challenge to keep five non-swimmers [afloat in the sea for so long].”
“I waited by the phone and got a message at 3.30 to say that Mum and Dad had evacuated, that they were surrounded by fire, and could we pray. So I braced myself to lose my children and my parents… I spent a lot of time with good friends and, yes, just prayed like I have never prayed before and I think those prayers have been answered.”
They all survived.