I have had a number of people ask me to write about my experiences working with the Murrindindi Shire communities on their commemorative events for the one year anniversary of Black Saturday. So I thought I would jot down just a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, I can't tell you how humbling it was to work with these communities. To see the strength and endurance of people even after some horrific events is just simply amazing.

The first day that I drove up to the area I was flabbergasted by the surrounds. As you turn one bend on the road to Kinglake you look down a valley and up at the mountains surrounding you and all you can see is black sticks coming up from the ground. The enormity of the event hits you with an impressive force. But as soon as you come into these towns, you see that life is indeed moving forward. The trees that line the roads are beginning to look green again, the towns themselves are full of activity and the people who live there have an amazing sense of community.

Events we were involved with throughout the shire on Feb 7 were as diverse as the communities producing them. A private memorial in Flowerdale, Gourmet Breakfast in Strath Creek, State Telecast and Gourmet Lunch in Toolangi, Combined Churches Service and Community Reflection at Marysville and Bereavement and Community Services at Kinglake. To be able to have these events realised is a testament to the Community Recovery Committees commitment to community and the need for people to come together on such an emotional day.  How lucky we feel to have been given the opportunity to listen to these communities needs and play a role in creating their vision for a place for community to remember and reflect. The strength and endurance of these communities is truly amazing and to be given a small limps into their experiences was both humbling and rewarding.

So many stories were shared with me on the days and weeks prior to the anniversary, stories of survival, of sorrow, of complete disbelief but the stories that will forever leave a lasting impression on me were those of people coming together for each other, stories which put community needs above personal ones and stories that remind us all that no matter what, you can get out of bed in the morning; even if it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do.