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ST ANDREWS Bushfire Memorial

The St Andrews Bushfire Memorial commemorates victims of the 7 February 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia. In 2011, Colin James, the community development officer with the bushfire recovery team at Nillumbik Shire Council in Greensborough, Victoria, invited various experts to discuss processes and outcomes for memorials in a variety of contexts. The aim was to ‘broaden the community’s understanding of what was possible and to assist them [the community] in setting the direction for their own process’ (James, pers com, 2011). Several members clearly articulated that the role of the memorial was not only to commemorate the loss of human life on a personal and local scale but also to acknowledge the strength and resilience that their community embodies. At a time in Australia’s history when bush communities and regional settlements were (and are) quickly disappearing, St Andrews wanted to make clear that, more than recovering, the community would flourish post Black Saturday. The memorial pictured on this page is located at a lookout site, currently part of the Kinglake National Park, on Bald Spur Road. The site’s topography provides a comprehensive view down the valley to the St Andrews area burnt on Black Saturday, neighbouring Strathewan and across to Christmas Hills. It has an upper and a lower terrace: the upper holds a large space for gatherings and the lower is a flat, circular walk around the spur with steep slopes on each side. On the upper terrace, the current design encompasses an open circle of 14 stone benches, which form a concentric ring around a circular steel band. The band is flush with the ground and has poetic text inscribed in honour of the St Andrews bushfire events, as well as 173 circular imprints in remembrance of all the lives lost across Victoria in the bushfires at the time. The lower terrace entrance has a series of burnt posts and signage, with educational information regarding fire history and ecology of the region, as an avenue of knowledge. Within the looping path on this terrace, the 14 monoliths are sited in relationship to the landscape and in varying positions (horizontal, vertical and buried).