Wagga woman launches Tathra Bushfire Appeal

When Beryl Wilson woke on Tuesday, she woke with a mission. 

Helping hand: Beryl Wilson has launched an appeal for the Tathra bushfire victims, with Barbeques Galore's Gary Gurtner and Riverina Cranes's Steve Mullins.

Helping hand: Beryl Wilson has launched an appeal for the Tathra bushfire victims, with Barbeques Galore's Gary Gurtner and Riverina Cranes's Steve Mullins.

The Wagga woman was determined to help the victims of the Tathra bushfire nightmare.

More than 70 homes and businesses were burned to the ground when a blaze tore through the small coastal town on Sunday.

While the catastrophe claimed no lives, it has left families with only ash to return home to. 

Enter Wagga. 

Donations have been flooding in and countless offers of help made since news broke of the town’s evacuation and yet the goodwill continues across the state.  

Wagga residents were this week calling to go one better – supporting the men, women and children on the Far South Coast who have lost everything they owned. 

It was a call Ms Wilson heard, inspiring her to launch an official appeal. 

Ashes and dust: John Plumb views the aftermath of the Tathra bushfire. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Ashes and dust: John Plumb views the aftermath of the Tathra bushfire. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“I woke up this morning after the devastation at Tathra feeling, devastated for the people,” Ms Wilson said.

“I decided the best way to deal with that was to turn it into something positive.”

Secure shipping containers, donated by Riverina Crane Services, will be open for contributions on Saturday and Sunday – March 24 and 25 – from 11am to 4pm. 

Volunteers from Wagga Men’s Shed will be manning the site at 29-21 Moorong Street across the weekend, but Ms Wilson said donations could be made during the week by calling 02 6931 0565. 

Goods can also be dropped off the following weekend, on March 31 and April 1. 

Further volunteers are being sought to pack and drive the Hertz-donated trucks, delivering everything directly to the Tathra community.

“Imagine being in your home and looking around ... these people have got nothing,” Ms Wilson said.

“They’re going to need non-perishable food, clothes, personal care products, furniture. 

Rubble remains: John Blankenstein visits what's left of his parents-in-law's house. Photo: Karleen Minney

Rubble remains: John Blankenstein visits what's left of his parents-in-law's house. Photo: Karleen Minney

“Anything you can donate, bring it down.” 

Cash donations, to assist with fuel, can also be made to the Tathra Bushfire Appeal GoFundMe page

Barbeques Galore owner Gary Gurtner said he expected the appeal would be bigger than Ben Hur.

“Half of Wagga goes to Tathra,” Mr Gurtner said. “Everyone will know someone who has been affected … we want to jump on board and help.”

Riverina Cranes owner Steve Mullins said he too had been holidaying at Tathra for more than 40 years. 

“We’ve got our own house there. We don’t know if it’s gone yet or not,” Mr Mullins said. “But however we can help, we’ll be there.”

Former Wagga councillor Mary Kidson on Monday urged Riverina residents to dig deep and donate.

“Wagga has a strong relationship with the Far South Coast,” Ms Kiddson said. “It just seems like it’s Wagga thing to do.”