The day the fires roared through KingstonPrint
- by Archivist, Liz Sheridan
During a single afternoon of bush fires in Tasmania – Tuesday, February 7, 1967 – 64 people died and 900 were injured.
The Archives have two remarkable first-hand reports written by Sisters who were caught up in the dramatic events of that day at both Kingston and Hobart. These excerpts, discovered in the Annals of St Aloysius Convent, Kingston recall that extraordinary day:
We commenced school on Tuesday morning, temperature of 102⁰, and a very strong, hot wind….By lunchtime….homes were burning, the roads were cut off….we sent local children home but were left with thirty from Margate, Snug and Taroona.
Around 2.30pm it suddenly became as black as the darkest night….. a horrible red glow was over the back of the Convent…. we had to get out, down to the beach…. some children were five year olds who had only commenced school that day. They held hands….the sand was burning our faces, we could hardly breathe. A family near the beach gave us water……we saw homes burning all around us…
Firefighters came to the beach and told us the Convent couldn’t be saved. By 7pm parents had collected the children…..we drove up through heartbreaking devastation to see what was left…..we were absolutely speechless to find the Convent and school still standing…..everything around it is burnt, all power is off…..
It is unbelievable…..but our community is full of initiative…..last night we scrambled eggs on the burning remains of our garage!
Image 1: Convent community in 1967 (left to right) Srs Myrna Lynch, Maureen Heffernan, Virginia Wilkinson, and Deirdre Hickey (seated); Image 2: The convent at Kingston (front); Image 3: The convent at Kingston (rear); Image 4: The convent after the fire went through.