Tonimbuk - the phoenix rising from the ashes | An Eventful Life

Tonimbuk - the phoenix rising from the ashes

      New fences are taking shape as the grass is coming back


In March 2019, the Bunyip bushfires swept through the area of Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, with Tonimbuk, a rural area of around 200 people, among the areas hardest hit with many homes lost

The fire started suddenly with a lightening strike that was witnessed by Mick Pineo, course designer for the Tonimbuk International Horse Trials, which is held each year at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre. The Horse Trials organising committee was in full swing of the preparations for the large event, the first international event of the year on the Australian eventing calendar and Mick, along with visiting New Zealand course designer John Nicholson, were out on course until the very last (more to come from the course builders in more interviews soon)

It would be easy to say that the Equestrian Centre was miraculously saved, but it wasn’t a miracle, it was thanks to the hard work of the local CFA, who used the centre as a base for their activities and a shelter. The large gravel car parks, which normally are packed with horse trucks and floats that weekend in March, provided a large cleared space with no vegetation and the Tonimbuk dams, filled with water in preparation for the coming event, provided an abundant water supply

Perimeter fencing was lost, large swathes of bushland that the cross-country course traditionally runs through, were burned and the house on the adjoining property burned down but the two large indoor arenas, the yards and stabling were saved.

John Nicholson and Mick Pineo eventually hot-footed it from the area, leaving the CFA fire crews to keep it safe, but on returning, the big green buildings still stood

The 2019 Horse Trials was cancelled and stock taken of what had to be rebuilt in order to get up and running for 2020, which is where we are now ………..

We popped into Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre recently to find out how preparations are going for the event which runs on 7th & 8th  March and it seems that things are going well ….