Jonny Gloyne starts rebuilding Roo Lagoon with a little help

Jonny Gloyne, like so many Islanders, lost pretty much everything in the summer's bushfires.

Destroyed was his Roo Lagoon Homestead bed and breakfast, his Australian Red Gum Gallery and workshop and also treasured items such as a Holden HQ utility.

And yet he was lucky to survive as he raced through flames in his 1969 HT Premier classic car at about 6.45pm on Friday, January 3.

His instinct told him to head to the safety of open ground at the Western Districts oval. His neighbours, Dick and Clayton Lang, attempted the same journey heading west but died on the road.

Worskil Australia's Steve Berzel and property owner Jonny Gloyne at the remains of his workshop at Roo Lagoon.

Worskil Australia's Steve Berzel and property owner Jonny Gloyne at the remains of his workshop at Roo Lagoon.

Somehow, Mr Gloyne made it to safety and he is now rebuilding with a little help from others, such as fellow KI local Steve Berzel from Worskil Australia's mobile Kangaroo Island Bushfire Clean-up Project.

Mr Berzel has not only helped clean up his property over the past six weeks but also provided a shoulder to lean on during the tough weeks since the fires.

"Jonny lost his tourism business but eventually the tourists will come back and I thought wouldn't it be great to help get Jonny and his business back so they can offer something for the visitors," Mr Berzel said.

Just over $10,000 was raised for Mr Gloyne through a GoFundMe page set up by Pip Faulkner of Parndana, entitled "Help Jon buy a Saw Mill to help rebuild KI".

Kangaroo Island bushfire survivor Jonny Gloyne and the Lucas Mill saw he was able to purchase thanks to donations on a GoFundMe page.

Kangaroo Island bushfire survivor Jonny Gloyne and the Lucas Mill saw he was able to purchase thanks to donations on a GoFundMe page.

He now has a Lucas Mill saw and has already put it to good use building a new deck around his own house, which survived the fire slightly scorched.

A 37-year resident at Roo Lagoon, Mr Gloyne is already thinking of helping others.

"When I'm finished here, I want to help other people with decking at their new houses," he said. "People want real houses, with real character not just transportable houses."

It's been a frustrating process with clean-up delays due to "too many chiefs and not enough Indians", so he was very grateful for the help of Workskil and Mr Berzel.

Mr Berzel in turn was impressed with the tenacity of the survivor. "I got a lot of inspiration from this guy," Mr he said. "He rolled up his sleeves and got on with it, helping himself. Also it's been a big priority for me to get his wood turning business going again and getting another tourism business going."

Worskil Australia's Steve Berzel and property owner Jonny Gloyne at the remains of his workshop at Roo Lagoon.

Dudley Peninsula resident Steve Berzel at Middle River at the start of his contract with Workskil Australia back in February.

Dudley Peninsula resident Steve Berzel at Middle River at the start of his contract with Workskil Australia back in February.

Workskil Australia, a not-for-profit employment services organisation, fought to keep its KI program going despite the COVID-19 restrictions and funding cuts. Chief executive Nicole Dwyer said Workskil had been forced to dip into its reserves, but it was hoped additional funding and manpower could soon become available.

Mr Berzel is working with the recovery centre at Parndana and has now helped about six property owners, with more lined up.

There is still help for everyone impacted by the fires. Some victims have said that they aren't applying for funding because they didn't fare as badly as their neighbour down the road.

"We want to reinforce that there is enough to go around and applying for grant funding doesn't take funds away from anyone else," fire recovery coordinator Rob Manton said. "If people or, now, community organisations haven't applied for these grants, they should consider doing so."

Anyone with clean-up or rebuilding jobs can register their needs with the Parndana recovery centre, or they can discuss any recovery activities with Rob on 0435 568 170 or email KIFireRecovery@sa.gov.au

Back at Newland, Mr Gloyne is keen to move back into his newly renovated home at Roo Lagoon so he does not have to keep commuting from American River.

It will become his temporary workshop and gallery, as he rebuilds the bed and breakfast and also a proper workshop, fortunately covered by insurance.

Mr Gloyne is no stranger to disaster and starting over as he had previously lost both structures to accidental fires.

Walking among the debris he managed to find one of his signature wooden salt shakers somehow intact in the back of the old ute, taking it as a sign that everything was going to be okay again.

This story Jonny Gloyne starts rebuilding Roo Lagoon with a little help first appeared on The Islander.

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