Daryl Taylor lost his home in the firestorm that destroyed most of Victoria’s Kinglake in February 2009. On that day, 173 lives were lost and more than 3500 buildings destroyed. Following the fires many people left the community. Daryl, an elected member of the recovery committee, was pivotal in rebuilding the Kinglake community.
On the day of the fires Daryl, partner Lucy and daughter Maggie were caught at their friends’ property as the firestorm hit. The house they were in burnt down around them and they were lucky to escape with their lives. On returning home, Daryl found the fire had burned through the pine timber structure and up into the roof. It took him 20 hours to put out this fire. By that time, inside the house was burnt and ruined, the roof was destroyed, and only the mudbrick walls remained standing.
‘Our little muddy has always been a social setting and as a community development worker this is important to me. Prior to the 2009 bushfires, we would regularly host dinner parties at our ten-seater table. We were close friends with 15 couples who regularly graced our dining room. Sadly, most have separated and moved on since the fires,’ explains Daryl.
Nine months after their home was destroyed, Daryl and his family were able to move back to the property, living in a 1940s hardwood cottage they had salvaged from demolition. They installed a new vegetable garden, re-established the orchard, brought home ducks and chooks and began planting deciduous, fire-resistant plants. Although they were living in cramped conditions, Daryl felt it was the right decision to get back on the property as soon as possible after a fire.