Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Still counting the cost

Barooga property owner shares his memories one year on from a devastating tornado.

TONI BRIENT March 31, 2014 4:10am

Aftermath: A vision of the damage. The remains of a shed and trees are pictured shortly after last year's tornado.



‘‘We got a new shed out of it, and some new machines, and a view of the mountain,’’ Nico Sieling said of the tornado which tore though his Barooga farm on March 21 last year.

He said about 8ha of trees were ripped out that night.

The tornado also destroyed multiple sheds, tractors and other farm equipment on his property, which spans more than 500ha in Barooga’s east.

Mr Sieling, together with his wife Pauline, their daughter Juliette Mason and her husband Ben Mason, and the Sielings’ grandson Jaxon, watched as the funnel sped across the land, missing the Sielings’ weatherboard home by mere metres.

The Masons’ house across the road was completely destroyed, and Mr Sieling said the three made it to his house within minutes of the tornado reaching the property.

‘‘No-one actually remembers the sound it made,’’ Mr Sieling said.

‘‘It only took probably five seconds (to move across the property).’’

In the following days and months, family and friends of the Sielings rallied to assist in the clean-up.

‘‘Sixty tonnes of scrap metal went, and that included some old machines and trailers,’’ Mr Sieling said.

He said he was amazed to see how far the tornado carried objects, such as a trailer that turned up in a pile of debris 80m from where it was parked.

‘‘The air seeder went for a ride,’’ he said.

‘‘We had two tandem trailers that were about 100m apart, and they swapped places.’’

Mr Sieling said he lost about 1500litres of weed killer and about 3000litres of diesel fuel that night.

‘‘Of course, you don’’ insure that stuff,’’ he said.

He said the experience made himself and other local farmers proactive about their insurance, particularly for bigger items such as tractors and trailers.

‘‘You don’t think about it, you buy it all for $3000 at a clearance sale and you just take it home and be done,’’ he said.

‘‘And if it breaks, you just buy another one or you fix it.

‘‘But when it all goes in one go ...’’

Mr Sieling wouldn’t say how much he’d lost during the tornado, but it was clear watching him flick through photos it hit the Holland-born farmer hard.

‘‘We lost ... a lot,’’ he said.

‘‘Just put it that way.’’

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