Audio and video interview with Dawn Williams by Liza Dale-Hallett at her dairy farm at Woodside North, on 28 May 2009. Dawn Williams and her son Barry own and operate a 184 hectare (457 acre) dairy farm, milking 150 cows. Their farm is surrounded by public land on three sides.

This interview forms part of the Victorian Bushfires Collection, and is also complemented by an interview with Dawn Williams in 2003 about her role as a farming woman (which is part of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection).

Description of Content

Dawn describes the impact of the changing climate on her farm since the late 1950s and including the long dry period leading up to Black Saturday, 7 February 2009. On Black Saturday the fires did not encroach on their property, however as a precaution the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) cut containment lines in the adjacent bushland and cut all the fences along the length of their property to assist in access if needed. Two weeks after Black Saturday, on 23rd February, fire on public land seriously threatened their farm. The interview covers the role of DSE in managing fire, the defence of their farm from the bushfire on 23rd February, volunteer assistance in the rebuilding fences, lack of mobile coverage. Peat on the property was still burning, three months after these fires.


The experience of Dawn Williams illustrates the complexity of bushfires, and draws attention to the reality that the February 2009 bushfires extended well beyond the Black Saturday weekend. This interview also indicates the dangers of back burning, and the long slow combustion of underground fuel like peat.

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