The $7000 investment that saved my home
Former cattle grazier Robert Pearce likes playing with grease.
His retirement plans were to restore old vehicles. And he had plenty to work on.
But a massive Batlow ember storm put an end to that. All that remains of the wrecks is a 1947 Chevrolet Blitz truck.
“It’s a non-goer and in very poor condition,” Robert said. “It’ll take me three to four years to restore. I’ll have to pull out every bolt and rebuild an engine.
“But I love playing with grease and it’s all I have now.”
The 63-year-old acolyte farmed 1200 acres at Yaven Creek and jokes that he moved only 32 kilometres to retire. He scaled down to 100 acres.
“We lived in the shed for 16 months while the house was being built and have only been in for six months,” Robert said. “The shed is burnt now.”
The house survived the blaze as it had to be built to fireproof standards due to the nearby trees.
“It cost an extra $7000 but was worth it,” Robert said. “There is no gap anywhere in this house greater than two millimetres.
“Batlow suffered a massive ember storm but my air conditioning and chimney have ember screens on them so nothing hot could get in.”
Robert and wife Vicki evacuated on January 2 and the fire came through two days later. Robert had put in fire breaks with a dozer but still lost three sheds plus his vehicles.
“They’re all more than 30 years old,” he said. “I just have fun with them.”
The wrecks included a 1943 Chevrolet Blitz, a 1974 international 6×6, an X-Ford Ute, an XC-Ford station wagon and a Mazda 121.
“It has affected me,” Robert said. “I am a crier, a real softie.
“I’ll get back into restoring vehicles, probably in six months or so. I’m in a good position. I’m a self-funded retiree so my income is still coming in. It’s just my play money that’s taken a bit of a hit.”