Hawke's Bay shearers and woolhandlers caught-up in the Australian bushfires fear they have now lost their homes they abandoned in an evacuation.
The evacuation of Parndana on Kangaroo Island's south coast was ordered on Thursday morning, and was the second flight for safety in a week for former World and Golden Shears woolhandling champion Tina Rimene, of Masterton, employed by Kangaroo Island main-centre Kingscote contractor Stuart Sandilands, who is from Havelock North.
Evacuated to Baudin on the north coast and holed-up in nearby Penny Shore, she told Hawke's Bay Today reporter and Shearing Sports New Zealand media officer Doug Laing early Thursday evening (NZDT): "I think by the maps we may have all just lost our homes. Very sad."
The island is a popular destination for workers from New Zealand woolsheds, and Rimene said the majority of the employees are from Hawke's Bay, including partner and shearer Jackson Haraki, from Hastings.
Rimene, who is in her first season on the island but has worked and lived in Australia on-and-off since the mid-1980s said: "There is quite a big Kiwi community here. Around 75 per cent would be Kiwi."
Last Friday night they were camping out at Vivonne Bay when the evacuation order came and today most of the crews were at a tangi in Kangaroo Island's main centre Kingscote for shearer Danny Sullivan, who passed-away this week.
Many were from related Sullivan, Tahau, and Sandilands whanau.
"They're all from Hawke's Bay," Rimene said.
Rimene, a three-times Golden Shears Open woolhandling champion who in South Africa in 2000 won a World teams title - the same title won last July in France by daughter Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape - said she just had time to return to gather her belongings from her rented home in Parndana, a town with a pub, two small cafes, a laundromat and a hardware store.
They were evacuated to Baudin on the north coast and later in the day were at a friend's home in Penny Shore, doing what Kiwis do best when without anything else to do after being evacuated amid the bushfires.
"We're all having a drink," she said. "It (evacuation) is a prevention move. We don't really know what it's like just now, but if it's gone ... [it will] start again."
Reassuring family back home seemed as much an issue as the evacuation, and she said her daughters were being "drama queens" — "booking tickets for me to come home and things like that. It's not that easy. We've got a home and three cars here."
A report from Adelaide daily The Advertiser said an Emergency Warning had been issued for Vivonne Bay and residents of Parndana had also been urged to leave their town as a fire bears down.
"Anyone left in the area is warned to leave now (before roads were closed and it became unsafe to travel)," it said on a website mid-afternoon New Zealand time. "It will soon be too dangerous to do so."
The South Australia Country Fire Service CFS was battling extreme fire conditions today, with gusty winds and temperatures about 40C and the CFS expected multiple flare-ups across the Ravine fire, which encompasses about a third of Kangaroo Island.
The fire near Parndana had broken control lines on Thursday morning, and with apparent escalation of the island's situation and no sign of abatement six armoured personnel carriers based at Edinburgh in Adelaide's north had headed to the island on the Sealink Ferry to help with the fire effort.