VicParks Young Achiever of the year Matthew Azzopardi has a unique respect for the efforts of his parents Karen and Charlie.
As he accepted the HMIA sponsored award from Terry Saintly at the VicParks conference at surfside Torquay he told delegates he had learned from their determination.
It has shaped his decision to make a career in the caravan park industry and set his goal of owning a park of his own.
At the height of the February 7 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfire threat to Glen Cromie he supported his father and fought to save Glen Cromie caravan park. The Victorian fires took the lives of 173 people and injured 414. There were up to 400 individual fires recorded in Victoria on February 7.
Soon after the Glen Cromie battlers and their caretaker Les came through the fire storm Karen Azzopardi told GoSee that as the blaze peaked survival meant lying on a grassed oval in the middle of the caravan park breathing through wet towels.
The Azzopardis fought Victoria's Saturday, Feb 7 fire storm to save their pretty Glen Cromie Caravan Park, near Drouin in Gippsland Victoria against impossible odds.
"We had half an hour and then suddenly we only had seven minutes".
"We had our caravan (pictured below) hooked up but it was just too late to leave.
We would never have got out, Karen said.
So we had to fight it and in doing that we saved our caravan park, she said.
Too late to leave The Azzopardi caravan has nowhere to go
Charlie and Karen told GoSee on Feb. 3 2009 that Glen Cromie had -taken a direct hit from the fire front.
But they were on the comeback trail even then - We will be up and running soon - can't keep us down for long! they said.
At the end of March 2009, Glen Cromie, a little burnt around the edges, opened again.
Then on Monday 5 October 2009. The Azzopardi's were back in GoSee current news again with a story from Karen which opened with: Yes we have copped it again!!!!
Our usual water level of the Tarago River is 400mm on the marker, but early yesterday afternoon (Sunday, September 27), the annuals area of the caravan park started to flood. We set up pumps, to direct the water from the lower area of the caravan park, she said.
By late afternoon Charlie had gone to the station (he is a CFA vollie) and got a larger pump to support our own pump as we were losing the battle and the river had risen to a whopping 1.8mts.
It is now 5.10pm (September 28) and we are still pumping continuously with the two portable pumps, but we are winning, Karen said.
Glen Cromie Caravan Park is at 850 Main Neerim Road, Drouin, Victoria. GPS South 38deg.4.29 East 145deg.53.33. Phone 03 5626 8212.
The 2010 VicParks Conference at the Crowne Plaza, Torquay attracted an unusually big 41 trade displays with both indoor and outdoor (cabin) exhibits.
The range of topics and speakers included the topic - Bushfires and Code Red. With good winter rains already and record snowfalls in the high country rapid regrowth will quickly make bushfire threat a summer reality.
VicParks Life Member Awards included Past President Phillip Redmond.GoSee includes pictures (below)which reveal the softer side of this determined long-term caravan industry advocate.
VicParks stalwart Executive Officer Peter Corish will go into retirement after delaying that event much longer than he had originally planned to assist the VicParks Executive .
Peter Corish first became involved with VicParks through his Lake Eildon Caravan Park. He is noted for his honesty, commitment to the caravan park industry, steady handling of VicPark affairs and financial management skills.
Editor's Note: Also See -
Phil Redmond is such an emotional bloke VicParks Conference Torquay
Honored for life Phil Redmond VicParks Conference Torquay
Industry Legends (l-r) John Wynn and Des Watts VicParks Conference Torquay
Peter Corish ends a fine innings as Executive Officer
Swan Hills Dennis OBryan GoSee prize winner VicParks Torquay
Geoff Olholm talks park planning at VicParks Torquay Conference