National Library of Australia

You must be logged in to Tag Records
Mark O'Neill interviewed by Mary Hutchison in the Canberra Bushfires 2003 oral history project [sound recording]
Bib ID 3527363
Format AudioAudio [sound recording]
O'Neill, Mark, 1952-, Interviewee
Access Conditions Access open for research and personal copies, written permission is required for public use during the lifetime of the interviewee. 
Description 2005 
3 digital audio tapes (ca. 171 min.) 

Canberra Bushfires 2003 oral history project.


Mark O'Neill speaks about his family background; the history and location of Mount Taylor Estate; his favourite places; community opposition to proposed development; his own work and community association experience; his early retirement as result of health issues; awareness of fire activity in days before; his bushfire experience as a younger man; his memory of grandfather using dynamite in backburning activity; lack of visibility; preparations at home; a sense that something would happen; hearing the roar of the fire at 4.00pm; fire crossing from Arawang to Mt Taylor in seconds; sheds burning in yard; hosing; explosions; neighbours putting out fires; the whole street being evacuated; returning to house in one piece, garage destroyed; how the experience forces awareness of human vulnerability; issues of impact of the fire; community members chasing out looters; the community getting back together after the fires; the devastation of the day; sense of threat continued during Saturday night; community roadblock to stop intruders; nerves on edge in immediate aftermath; items saved and items left behind.

O'Neill talks about community management; support from local businesses and clubs; impact of heat on doors in houses; the issue of fate of government houses; the role of Recovery Centre; the issue of opening yourself up to the generosity of other people; instances of greed in context of material support; fear and own experience of the fire; media coverage; the importance of getting people's stories out there; government management of forestry; Coronial Inquiry issues; personal lessons of the fire experience; process of developing ideas for firestorm story tree; first anniversary; impacts of the fire on community, individuals, volunteer firefighters and Emergency Services personnel; unexpected support responses; emotional difficulties; the huge impact of losing neighbours; the importance of being positive as a community; lessons for bushfire management and emergency Services; Mt Taylor Estate Community Fire Unit; living with changes as a fact of life; talking about the fire experience with others; managing successive bushfire seasons; distinction between firestorm and bushfire; impact of fire on children's sense of security; the value of community.

Full contents
  • Tells story about: Danny patrolling area with baseball hat
  • A man leaving his wife behind.

Recorded on May 11, 2005 and June 01, 2005 at Kambah, A.C.T.

Digital master available National Library of Australia;

Index/Finding Aid Note Detailed summary (8 p.) 
Subjects O'Neill, Mark, 1952- -- Interviews.  |  Forest fires -- Australian Capital Territory -- Anecdotes.  |  Natural disasters -- Australian Capital Territory.
Other authors/contributors Hutchison, Mary, Interviewer


    In the Library

    Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video Help Video.

    Details Collect From
    ORAL TRC 5105/17
    Copy: Recording
    Special Collections Reading Room
    ORAL TRC 5105/17 (summary)
    Copy: Summary
    Special Collections Reading Room

    Order a copy

    - Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary.

    Help Video To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video Help Video.
    close Can I borrow items from the Library?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    close What can I get online?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    close Can I get copies of items from the Library?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags
    Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions in this catalogue which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was created and may now be considered offensive.