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TAS Country : June 7th 2012
ne 8, 2012 17 . Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES ichard Tasmanian fruit industry, which has earned him a place on the Roll of Honour. Industry leader Stephen Reid was added to the roll. After working hard to build up the family's business, by 1963 SD Reid and Sons was the largest privately owned apple packing business in the southern hemisphere. Henry Chilton was another industry stalwart added to the roll. Mr Chilton, who established the highly success- ful wholesale business Chilton Thompson and Co, was instrumental in developing many export markets for Tasmanian apples in Asia, Africa and North America. He also pioneered the use of cell pack packing system which went on to replace the traditional wooden crates used to transport fruit. Rebuilding their lives With help from their friends LUCKY: Sue Ellis and burnt gums next to buildings. Pictures: ROGER LOVELL and LUKE BOWDEN HARD WORK: Sue Ellis looks at a map of the area while son Henry helps with the clean-up with friends including Dave Webber and Guy Ellis. ALICE CLARIDGE THREE months after the devastating bushfire that tore through their Meadowbank property, Ellis family members are wearing brave faces and ''getting on with things''. After a warm and wet autumn, the 2400ha property is now covered in bright green grass, spotted with the rust of old gumtrees still standing after the blaze which ripped through in late February on a scorching 40C day. Amazingly, Sue and Gerald Ellis only lost 50 head of stock in the fire. ''It was quite amazing, the fire went straight through their paddock but it must have just jumped over them somehow,'' Sue said. Fortunately, only the extremities of the vineyard were burnt, leaving the bulk of the vines un- touched. But the entire vintage, due to be picked in the days following the fire, was lost. ''But we were lucky, it could have been worse; we are lucky in so many ways,'' Sue said. They thought they had prepared the vineyard as best they could against natural disasters, including frosts and droughts. ''We had anti-frost system above the vines, which didn't burn, but simply melted in the heat,'' ''Our irrigation system is ruined too.'' Mrs Ellis said despite the size of the fire, she remained calm as she and her two daughters ran around the 130-year-old homestead putting out spot fires. ''There were horses running around through the garden and the sheep dogs locked inside for the first time in their lives,'' ''When the pine trees caught alight was when I started to get really worried. They are only metres from the house. ''But we are so lucky we're close to the Derwent River, the helicopter was just picking up water and bombing around the place.'' The family are grateful to other farmers around the state who have supported them with donations of stock feed, hay and agisting some of their animals. The biggest job at hand now is to replace the fences on the huge property. Emergency work started about a week after the fire to secure the remaining stock. Since then the family and friends have been working tirelessly to rebuild the fences. ''In three months we have replaced about 10km. But there is still another 70km to go,'' Sue said. ''We will do it slowly, fencing large areas to start. ''Gerald's brother Paul has been very kind, helping us to organise working bees.'' The fencing was not covered by the farm's insurance. ''I guess we just never ever expected such a huge, devastating event.'' Despite their huge losses the Ellis family has a lot to look forward to, with one of their daughters getting married at the homestead later this year. ''We might never get all the work done; it might be left to the next generation,'' she said.
May 31st 2012
June 14th 2012