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Bunyip Complex bushfire recovery - new information

This page has the most recent information and updates for people affected by the Bunyip Complex Fires of March 2019.

If you cannot find the information you're looking for on this page, visit the other bushfire recovery information page


Bushfire Recovery Centre
1900 Gembrook-Tonimbuk Road, Tonimbuk (view location in Google Maps
Ph: 5629 8571

In response to advice from government agencies regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Recovery Centre is currently closed. We will open it again as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience this causes. 

Don't forget you can still get recovery, planning and business help over the phone and by email. 

Access recovery advice by phone or email

If you have any recovery-related questions, our Bushfire Recovery team is available by phone or email from Monday to Friday during business hours.

The community-led dinners on Wednesday nights at Tonimbuk Hall and the monthly dinners at Tynong North and Garfield North have been cancelled for the time being. Please check back here for updates. 

Read the special edition newsletter 

A message from the Mayor 

Dear community, 

It’s been a hard year for many of our community members since the Bunyip Complex Fires in March 2019. Recovering from a bushfire – from losing your home, your business or having significant property damage – is a process that can go on for years. It takes a lot of resilience to soldier on when you are faced with the monumental task of cleaning up your property every day for months on end. On behalf of Council and my fellow Councillors, I want to take a moment to sincerely acknowledge the courage that our fire-affected communities have had to make it through this disaster and work towards rebuilding their lives.

It’s in the face of such struggles that we also see the very best of the human spirit. We see local communities spring into action to rally around those in need and support them in any way possible. In the hours, days, weeks and months that followed the Bunyip Complex Fires, we were overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, all of whom wanted to volunteer their time to help others in need, including many who were also directly affected by the fires. We are incredibly grateful for everything that volunteers have done for our fire-affected communities.

Even though we have come a long way during that time, our community is still recovering. As a Council, we are continuing to work with and support our residents and local business operators who’ve been affected by the fires, and continue to connect community members with services and assistance.

We are also advocating strongly to other levels of government for our communities to receive more funding support and the kind of services that are being offered to people affected by the recent bushfires across the nation.

We will keep working with our fire-affected communities for as long as it takes to recover from the bushfires. As we rebuild our homes, businesses and communities, it’s important that we look out for each other. The physical and environmental impacts of fire are easy to identify, but the emotional affects can be more subtle and harder to recognise. A lot of people go into ‘action mode’ after a disaster and look at all the tasks that need to be done to rebuild and it may not be until much later that they start to feel strong emotional reactions to what they’ve experienced. That’s why now, 12 months later, it’s important to check in on our friends and neighbours, and check in with ourselves, to see how we are coping and if we need a hand to get through it.

It's been a really positive outcome to see the community dinners each Wednesday night at Tonimbuk Hall bringing together people who have now developed bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. The strong sense of community spirit and togetherness will endure long after we have rebuilt from the Bunyip Complex Fires.

We know that bushfires are a part of life in Australia and as we recover from this event, we also need to look to the future to ensure we’re prepared for current and upcoming fire seasons, including emotional preparedness.

This special edition of the Bushfire Recovery Community Newsletter includes an insightful conversation about trauma recovery with Anne Leadbeater OAM and clinical psychologist Dr Rob Gordon from the Better Health Channel podcast series.

Please remember that you’re not alone in this journey. If you need help, we encourage you to reach out to the personal and financial support services listed in this newsletter.

Yours sincerely,

Cr. Jeff Springfield

Cardinia Shire Mayor

The newsletter is updated regularly with the latest news and events for residents. If you are in the fire-affected area, the newsletter is the best way to stay up to date on information related to the recovery. 

26 February 2020 edition: Bushfire recovery newsletter (PDF)

Subscribe to the newsletter by email

If you would like to us to send you an email linking to the newsletter each time it is updated, please enter your email address below. 

You can also subscribe by calling us on 1300 787 624, emailing or letting a Council staff member at the recovery centre know. 

Printed copies of the newsletter 

Copies are available at the recovery centre. To request more copies, ask the Council staff member on duty. 



Volunteers working from the recovery centre have established a Facebook group for people affected by the Bunyip State Park fires, and for volunteers assisting with the recovery.

The group is for people to share recovery information and give and receive support.

To find the group, search for the name 'Bushfire Recovery Group - Tonimbuk Hall' on Facebook and request to join. 

Farmers in the fire-affected area can arrange a one-on-one farm visit with Lindsay Hyde, Team Leader Land Management at Agriculture Victoria.

To make a booking, email or call 0400 050 223.

For more agriculture recovery information visit the Agriculture Victoria website

Biodiversity grants program

This grants program supports biodiversity projects on private land in Cardinia Shire. Fire-affected properties are eligible to apply.

Works that may be eligible for funding support include:

  • revegetation using tube stock and local seed for direct seeding
  • protection and enhancement of remnant vegetation
  • weed control on private land.

The project will help protect remnant native vegetation and regional biodiversity. Threats to regional biodiversity are caused by fragmented vegetation, degraded waterways, salinity, erosion, weeds and introduced animals.

This grants program is funded by Cardinia Shire Council and managed by the Western Port Catchment Landcare network.

For an expression of interest form: Western Port Catchment Landcare Network Central Region

For more information: Natalie Mikecz, or 0407 548 765, or Nicole Walsh, or 0490 955 168 to arrange a site visit.

Weed control grants program

Weed control grants are available to help landowners and community groups control noxious and environmental weeds on private property, both in agricultural areas and areas of high environmental value.

Funding categories

Funding is available for the following categories of approved weed control works:

  • Purchasing herbicide (maximum $250, or $500 for community groups).
  • Disposing of weed material, i.e. tip passes or skip hire (maximum $200).
  • Hiring of equipment, for example sprayers, mulchers etc (maximum $250).
  • Hiring contractors (maximum $250) - please refer to conditions below.

More information

Visit our apply for a weed control grant page.

If you are a business owner or operator affected by the Bunyip Complex bushfires, we would like to better understand the impact of the fires on your business.

Please help us by filling out this short questionnaire 

The information you share will help us with future planning, and help us advocate for business support and plan business-specific recovery initiatives and actions.

The Community Recovery Committee, made up of 9 elected community members, plays an important role in identifying community needs and priorities, and communicating these to Council and the Victorian Government.

Committee members

  • Garry Burns (Garfield North)
  • Tony Fitzgerald (Garfield North)
  • John Fitzpatrick (Bunyip)
  • Mark Hanneysee (Tonimbuk)
  • Jane McLaughlin (Tonimbuk)
  • Sue McMahon (Tonimbuk)
  • Lindsay McNaught (Tonimbuk)
  • Katie Van Egmond (Garfield North)
  • Liz Wishart (Brandy Creek)

If you have any concerns or issues you would like to raise in relation to the community’s bushfire recovery, contact the committee on 0436 836 093 or email

The Community Recovery Committee is collecting ideas from residents for events and activities that will help the fire-affected community recover.

Ideas submitted will be considered by the Community Recovery Committee for the Bunyip Complex fires.

Use the Rebuilding Your Community online survey to send your ideas. 

  • Lifeline: 131 114 24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service. 
  • BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 Provides information on depression and anxiety. To access professional counselling services, please make contact with your GP and ask for a referral. 
  • Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800 Confidential telephone counselling service for young people aged 5–25 years. 
  • Headspace: 1800 650 890
  • ParentLine: 132 289 Counselling and information for families with children (up to 18 years) from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. 
  • Men’s Line Australia: 1300 789 978 24–hour counselling and advice for men. 
  • Safe Steps Family Violence Support: 1800 015 188
  • Family Violence support:  There is an increased risk of family violence after an emergency. Help is available by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732 - confidential) or go to the Family Violence Victoria website

Bunyip State Park (western section still closed)

A message from Parks Victoria

  • The western section of Bunyip State Park, including some visitor sites, walking tracks and roads, is closed so that it can recover from the fire.
  • Parks Victoria understands the connection the community has with Bunyip State Park, but requests that visitors please respect the park closure. Parks Victoria Rangers will be regularly monitoring and carrying out compliance in the area.
  • The eastern section of the park is still open to walkers and horse riders, including Lawson’s Falls and the Forest Road unloading area, but all roads are closed until 31 October as part of the regular annual seasonal road closures.
  • Although some of the closed areas were not directly burned, their closure is helping the park to recover more quickly.
  • Recent night surveys have found Greater Glider, Powerful Owl, koalas, mountain brushtails and wombats in fire-affected areas. Lyrebirds, kangaroos and wallabies are also frequently spotted in the park. Wild dog and fox control is ongoing.
  • To report injured wildlife call 5960 7100

For more information and to see maps of the closed areas visit the Parks Victoria website

Mt Cannibal Reserve closed

Mt Cannibal Reserve in Garfield North re-opened to the public on Saturday 21 December 2019. Mt Cannibal had been closed since bushfires went through the reserve in March 2019, so that works and natural regeneration could take place.

A garden regeneration and recovery program in the fire-affected area is underway, thanks to a partnership between Lions Club volunteers at the recovery centre, the Bunyip Green Thumbs and Garfield Garden Group.

Since the fires, Bunyip Green Thumbs has been potting up a variety of cuttings at Bunyip Community House. The group has also organised for children from Bunyip Kindergarten and Bunyip and Garfield Primary schools to pot up daffodil bulbs donated by a local resident.

The pots will be kept at the recovery centre and given out once they start flowering.

The group also wants to help residents in the bushfire area to clear and start re-planting their gardens.

If you have a garden you’d like help with, or you would like to be a garden volunteer: Call Shirley from Lions Club on 0411 231 650 or 5629 8571.

Visit the Other recovery information web page.