Cardinia Shire commemorates the 40th anniversary of Ash Wednesday

Published: 5 February 2023

Community members are invited to attend a number of events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Ash Wednesday Bushfires.

16 February 2023 will mark the 40th anniversary of Ash Wednesday, one of the most significant bushfire events in both Australia and Cardinia Shire’s history.  

It claimed the lives of 47 Victorians, including 27 people in Cardinia Shire. 

More than 180 fires occurred on that day across several towns and communities in regions across the state. More than 16,000 firefighters and other personnel were involved in the response. 


CFA state-based commemoration 

A state-based commemoration is being held this Sunday (12 February 2023) at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre in McBride Street, Cockatoo. 

The Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC) provides an overview of the eight major fires on the day and was chosen as the site for the commemoration following consultation with past and present CFA members who fought the 1983 fires. 

The centre was built in 2011 with funding from the Australian Government, Council and the Victorian Heritage Restoration Fund. 

A link to the commemoration service will be available on the CFA website for people who are unable to attend. 


Upper Beaconsfield Fire Brigade Exhibition 

An exhibition to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Ash Wednesday bushfires is being hosted by the Upper Beaconsfield Fire Brigade. 

This free community event will run from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th February 2023 at the Upper Beaconsfield Community Hall, located next to the Community Centre. 

The event will feature photos and artefacts which help tell the story of the event that devastated parts of Cardinia Shire.  


Council is proud to support the Upper Beaconsfield Fire Brigade’s upcoming exhibition through its 2022-23 Festival and Events Grant program. 


Anniversaries of significant events such as the Ash Wednesday fires can bring up difficult memories and feelings including sadness, fear and grief.  

In the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, and in the days after, if you find yourself experiencing strong emotions, we recommend that you contact Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 which offer support services nationwide. 

CFA members and their families can contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line for free, confidential 24/7 access to psychologists, counsellors, peers and chaplains. 

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