After one of the most difficult times in local history, the community of Augusta Margaret River came together over the weekend to remember the victims of Friday’s tragedy, and to take stock of what it means to be part of a regional community.
For Steve and Debbie Jones and the team at Sunflowers Animal Farm, that meant throwing open the doors to their Burnside property and allowing free entry all weekend.
According to Mr (or rather, Farmer) Jones, the reaction from his original Facebook post about a family day was “overwhelming”.
“Never in our wildest dreams did Debbie and I expect to receive the support we did, and that the community would get behind us like this,” he said.
His initial post garnered hundreds of likes within minutes, and plenty of offers of entertainment and activities from other members of the community.
“We had Bec Bolton from Naturaliste Reptile Park with some of her snakes and lizards, Lynden and Olivia Gamage were kind enough to provide a bouncy castle for the kids, we had Linda Moyle, Brodie Keen and my daughter Bonnie face painting for the kids,” he continued.
Mr Jones said the proximity of counsellors available to chat to grieving members of the community to the face painting station meant parents were able to obtain advice and support while the kids enjoyed a moment to themselves.
“I can’t thank the counsellors enough who came along to offer their services. We also had Brumby’s supplying delicious food and a local lady even dropped off lunch for us all, people really went above and beyond.”
The weekend saw a whopping 600 people – or what Mr Jones estimates at 150 families – pass through the gates to spend time with the huge range of animals and enjoy some quality time in a peaceful, relaxed space.
“The thing that was really special for me was the fact that there were groups of multiple families arriving and spending the day together – this wasn’t just individual families spending time together but combined family groups, neighbours, school friends, spending their time as a community.”
“One lady said she felt like everyone there on the day was her friend, and that she was able to talk to people about things that she may not even talk about with her closest friends.”
Mr Jones said words would not suffice to express the gratitude he and the Sunflowers team felt.
“All I can say is that it makes us very proud to be a part of this wonderful community, they really are so strong and so passionate about supporting their own.
“My concern now is for the people who are going through this alone, the ones who don’t have a family around them or are living on their own.
“Please, please check on your neighbours. Please don’t let anyone go through this alone, if that’s one thing I can say without hesitation it’s to look after each other.”
For help and support, please contact:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
- Headspace - 1800 650 890
- Rural Link - 1800 522 002
- Alcohol and Drug Support Line – 1800 198 024
- Margaret River Surgery - 9757 2766
- Margaret River Medical Centre - 9757 2733
- Margaret River Hospital - 9757 0400
- Margaret River Community Mental Health Services - 9757 3547
- Margaret River Senior High School Student Services - 9757 0795
- Willmott Health and Wellbeing - 9757 2677
- South West Community Alcohol and Drug Service - Suicide Prevention - 9721 9256
- South West Counselling Services - 9754 2052
- Lamp Margaret River - 9754 1834
- Margaret River Community Centre (Financial Emergency Relief) - 9757 3200