It was a rough start to the new year for our beautiful country.
Our founders Caroline and Andrew Olah were caught up in the South Coast fires on New Years Eve. Their experience has not only changed them forever, but has also changed Reddie as a brand. We will always continue to prioritise thought and action towards making better change for our planet.
We asked Caroline and Andrew to share their story.
"We spent the past holiday season at Broulee on the South Coast with our two children and extended family. Andrew has family in Broulee and it has always been our ultimate holiday spot. Broulee has an incredible community, and the days are always filled with street cricket, blue skies and beach days. Every Aussie's perfect summer."
"Before travelling down to Broulee, we were aware that there were fires nearby, but were always told that the fires would never get close to the beach. As we checked the warnings, we were given the all clear and made the decision to still go ahead with our trip.
When arriving on Christmas day, the air was smokier than Sydney and whilst we were a little concerned, everyone tried to stay positive and make the most of each day - so beach days and cricket continued as planned. It was definitely still hard to ignore, especially when we had heard stories from local volunteer firefighters. Burnt leaves falling from the sky didn't help the situation either."
"When we woke up on New Years Eve to a pinkish-red sky and intense smell of smoke, we knew something was wrong. The smoke alarms started going off in the house every other minute that we actually had to unplug them. Everyone started to get more concerned, and neighbours began to gather on the street to work out what to do and where to go. There was a lot of confusion, to say the least."
"The sky became darker and darker that it literally felt like sunset. It wasn't long before the power cut off, along with the internet and phone signal, and that's when we knew the fire was coming right towards us. We found out it was too late to leave as the fires were moving too rapidly. So, our only option was to evacuate to the beach. We packed our bags and took only the essentials. It broke our hearts when we had to wet towels and tie them over the faces of our 5 and 2-year-old, telling them to close their eyes when their eyes started to water from all the smoke."
"Everyone was unusually calm and I think that's because we didn't know how huge and damaging the fire coming towards us was. None of us had experienced anything close to this whilst growing up in Australia, ever.
By the time we arrived at the beach, the sky turned from a light red to grey, and then to pitch black. As the minutes ticked by, we sat on the beach and watched the fire get closer and closer. We all thought that the fires were far away, but then we started to see flames. That's when we spotted our heroic aerial fire fighters, dumping water over the fires near us from water helicopters."
"One thing that you don't realise when sitting in front of a campfire is the extent of the actual fire itself, but when a campfire is kilometres wide and meters high, its f*cking hot. It had to have been over 50 degrees.
The beach started filling up with people really quickly. The caravan park right next to the beach also evacuated and we all braced for the worst.
We were then surprised by a southerly cold front pushing the flames in the other direction. This saved most of the houses and beach area in Broulee. Although we were lucky, this meant that the fire was pushed to the north and were devastating the northern regions. We could only hope that no lives or homes were lost."
"The community in Broulee are truly amazing - in the hours afterwards, everyone filled the streets, riding their bikes to check on neighbours. Andrew and a group of boys also went to help put out fires at the local Broulee High School as the fire fighters were under-resourced.
That night on New Year's Eve we were all so exhausted, but we managed to get together at our families' house, drinking wine and thinking back on the experience amongst candlelight, as there was still no power.
Getting home the next day was challenging to say the least. We all realised how dependent we were of the internet, as our phone service and online navigation tools were all linked to the internet - which we were unable to access.
We had to find an old map to work out how to get home. Even our road closure updates were only informed to us through word of mouth. I remembered how I had previously made fun of my father for bringing a torch and radio on the trip, calling him old school, but we ended up relying on those items the most - now I will never travel without them!
Our trip back home took 30 hours with a stopover at Milton, where our friend took in all 10 of us for the night as we we're all stuck due to the road closures.
When compared to those who have lost their lives, and families who have lost their homes, we were definitely the lucky ones. This experience will forever stay with us and we will always remember and think of those who have been through much worse. We urge people to do what they can to help those affected, whether that may be through donating what you can, or providing assistance in any way that you can. Australia needs your help."
- Caroline Olah
Reddie has made donation's to assist with Australia's Bushfires, and we hope to continue supporting those affected in every way possible.
Reddie's Making Changes
"As business owners and parents this experience has changed us."
- Caroline Olah At Reddie, environmental sustainability and ethical practices have always been at the heart of our business. Our philosophy evolved from our awareness of the negative environmental impacts brought upon by mass production. Due to these impacts, Reddie only makes to order, and does not mass produce.
We also only use plantation grown teak wood and buy entire logs to minimise wastage (many furniture manufacturers only buy sawn timber, which results in a lot of waste). All our off-cuts are up-cycled into handcrafted homeware pieces or donated to local communities. But we want to do more.
Since the bushfires:
We are now looking to implement reclaimed timber options, making use of unused timber in the region.
Our factory is also currently developing a plastics recycling machine so we can up-cycle ocean plastic into accessories.
We are also looking over all our processes and prioritising minimal waste.
We hope to inspire others to also make small changes. Together we can make big changes.