Bushfire finishes off unwanted plantation trees on Kangaroo Island farm

Silver linings from the summer's horrific bushfires on Kangaroo Island are few and far between.

But look no further than Ben Davis' farm off Church Road on the far western end where years of work removing plantation trees was sped up in the firestorm on the evening of January 3.

All the windrows of felled trees he had made were turned to ash in the fire, allowing him to plant oats this year, well ahead of schedule.

"It burned everything," he said. "It's one of the best clean-up burns you'll ever see. When you look for a silver lining, then that's what happened here."

Mr Davis over the last five years has made it his mission to return 400 acres of former plantation land he purchased back into cropping and grazing farmland.

The Islander visited his farm exactly one year ago where the daunting task of chaining, wind-rowing and burning blue gum trees was still ahead.

The fire may have saved him years of work on the farm, but the Davis family was hit hard by the summer's bushfires, losing their house, property, livestock and bee hives.

Ben, his brother Brenton and father Peter, took shelter in the farm house that evening as the world around them burned down at about 6.30pm.

Surviving the fire

They escaped the burning house, saving a few keepsakes, before making their way in complete darkness out of the fire zone, arriving at Vivonne Bay at about 8.30pm.

Ben's wife Sabrina and children are now living in Kingscote, while Ben spends his week on the farm living in the bushfire emergency accommodation "pod" provided by the Minderoo Foundation.

Ben and his worker Brent "Hammer" Flower have removed and rebuilt more than 7.5 kilometres of external fencing. Also assisting were friends from Tumby Bay, who brought over a truckload of fencing equipment.

Only one stretch of fence survived the fire on the farm, while he also plans to fence off the creeks through the property.

Mr Davis and his family have spent months collecting rocks and thousands of blackened logs into piles.

And last week, the momentous occasion of seeding 12 tonnes of oats took place on the previous plantation land.

Mr Davis lost all 400 of his sheep and has not yet been able to restock due to the shortage and high demand for livestock. He also lost 20 hives and 40 boxes of honey that had been ready to go.

"I'm hoping to restock when the situation is right," he said. "This seeding of oats is an important step. I just want to get something in the ground."

One surprising result of the fire is the complete lack of wildlife on his farm, as he has only seen a handful of wallabies and kangaroos, although the birds were now coming back in numbers.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of animals cooked and dead all over the farm after the fire," he said.

And speaking of silver linings, the phone and probably television reception is now a lot better after the trees that once surrounded the house burned.

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