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Chapter 5

Paige, Roxanne and other stories 


Paige Caves

June 9th 2021    A night I’ll never forget and a night that changed my life forever. It traumatised me so much, that I no longer feel safe, not just in my home, but also in many aspects, especially around large trees. I have always loved and appreciated the trees and forest, this event fractured my life in more ways than one.

Needless to say we are eternally grateful no one was injured or killed, yet the trauma is real and the fallout continues……..

Our beautiful home in Belgrave was devastaed by ? large trees falliing and destroying half the property. 

We had to live with half the house boarded off for more than 2 years. 

The finish line to our repairs still eludes us, almost three years on, it’s very long time out if my life, at my age and with significant health issues, I also live with chronic pain 24/7, which sadly have been magnified since this storm event, apparently myself or my home aren’t easily mended…..

My memories of that night…….

“A moonless night, a tempest, a wind raging, rain blowing horizontally across the sky

unforgiving, relentless wind and rain…….

It felt like fate was somehow teetering on a precipice that night……

A heart stopping moment, it seemed nature had conspired a tale of absolute terror to haunt me forever


A crash, a noise so indescribable, incomprehensible

a towering gum, that once stood sentinel, now lay splintering and splitting our home,

I could see the sky where roof should be, garden where walls once stood

I stood still, paralysed unable to move, unable to find thoughts, let alone find words


The cacophony of the storm still clearly raged….

but reality somehow stalled, it left me suspended in an unreality, unable to comprehend

Time elapsed, yet time stood still, half my home lay destroyed, wreckage strewn,

then echoes begin to enter my mind, reality starts to dawn, I shake uncontrollably


Crushed furniture, where my son had been just moments before,

I cry, I shake, I felt defeated and crumpled to my knees

Wounds of that night will always linger, a giant, leaving such destruction in it’s wake, it’s forever etched in my mind as my soul lay shattered that night, as shattered as my home


Time elapses, yet wounds still unhealed, some festering in hopelessness

The prospect of recovery was bright to start, now in a shroud that suffocates the hope

My garden gone, scaffolding, an intricate lattice of shattered promises, and builders lies, stare me in the face daily

Hope fades of the safe home I once knew, a complete home


Flashbacks and nightmares can never be resolved, looking at a personal war zone as a daily reminder

Our home while now structurally sound, is fragmented to what once was,

there are still gaping wounds in my dwelling, that stares as stark testament to my ordeal, maybe when my home is healed, I can heal?


As I navigate this uncertain path, I yearn for the day I have my home back, my garden back

The scaffolding down, maybe nightmares will subside when my home is restored

Until then I am a wanderer in the landscape of my own despair,

clinging to a fragile hope that one day my sanctuary will be regained”



Roxanne's story

My Storm Story   by Roxanne Bivolcheff

It was the morning of that fateful night. We My son and I wake to our usual idyllic, picturesque surroundings. I really couldn’t say if it was very windy yet, but it was cold and cloudy and would progressively get worse over the day.

         The dark and brooding weather was offset inside our little house, which was affectionately known as the tree cubby, nestled perfectly into the surrounding forest, it was cosy and the fire still with embers glowing from the night before, was giving off a delicious warmth.

         The weather was starting to pick up, and the trees had begun to shed twigs and branches which were making louder than normal crashes and thuds on our roof. We lived in an A frame house, with a very steep roof so every branch that fell would roll the whole roof and make such a clatter - even the small ones. The wind was blowing in a different direction, I could tell this because my wind chimes were not giving off the beautiful sounds they normally did on a NORMAL windy day. My anxiety was heightened with every branch that fell, and I was getting rather wound up!

        From the safety of our little house, I stood watching the giant, majestic 70-80 metre monsters from our window, hoping they would stand strong against the wild weather that was growing in fierceness. With no sign of subsiding, only growing more wild, how were they going to bear this weather? I'm not sure if it was raining yet or not, my memory has spaces. I do know for sure, that my whole being was anxious all day, from the moment I awoke, but life went on as usual.

        As it was lockdown, we had home schooling, my boy aged 9 was calm and enjoyed his warm, cosy home and the fun we always had, even home schooling. For his calmness I made sure my wild anxieties were not visible and he could enjoy his day, not knowing or even thinking what the evening ahead  might bring for us.

    Now, I'm normally very regimented when it comes to bedtime, as we know kids need sleep or they turn into little monsters! But this evening I was more lenient and open to a later night as child was becoming a little worried about the weather, because by now it was blowing an absolute gale, and the rain was definitely there, bucketing down. Normally in wild weather I would pack our gear, grab our beloved doggo Bowser and head off the mountain until the storms passed, but this day I felt fear and unsafe driving down the mountain, so I decided to stay put, to keep us safe because the mountain roads can be treacherous when it is raining and windy.

      We decided that we would make a board game for after dinner. So, with dinner and dishes done we started our fun. We drew his favourite characters from Undertale, a computer game he loved, cut them out, coloured them in and proceeded to play our newly made game, all while listening to music, singing along and having a dandy time together, comfortable and warm out of the raging weather that was howling outside. It had become so much more severe that now our dog was freaking out... a lot! He was on his bed behind the table where we were sitting, keeping close to his little pack. We had heaps of fun playing our new creation, laughing, and carrying on, it was going to be a treasured memory for both of us.

      So now after a lovely warm shower, we were both in our comfy pjs and cosy dressing gowns, ready for a movie, which I had decided, even though late, we were going to watch together before bed. Child was extremely fearful now of the tornado like weather and needed Mum cuddles. Little did I know that if I hadn’t have made that choice, I would not be sitting here writing our story... For where my bed was and our lounge, being under my bedroom, that was the first point ripped to smithereens as the trees hit, and where we both would have been at that precise moment of impact. So, we snuggled on the couch, fire blazing, with delightful, warm popcorn and watched our movie, Raya and the last dragon. A movie that my child cannot watch again after that fateful night.

     Movie finished, wind even MORE severe that the sound of the branches was like a giant drum kit being played on our roof, we were getting ready for bed. We both brushed our teeth together and started to get the rest of the nightly routines done, so we could cuddle up in the "big bed" and ride out the storm.

     I asked child to take up the dog’s bed and place it in its usual spot, though knowing doggo would be on the big bed with us, his pack, guarding us from the danger outside. Lucky I did - as again all my actions this evening saved our lives!! If he wasn’t up there the outcome would have been shattering!!

      With child upstairs, I was still downstairs turning off heater fans and was about to turn out the lights, and that was when our lives were turned upside down, inside out, literally, in an instant.

       There was a horrendous crash and in a split second it was lights out, no switch necessary! Our neighbour’s trees could not hold on, their roots pulled from the earth like weeds and like dominoes, two giants fell, catching a third giant from our yard on the way through, and shattering our safety, our cosiness and warmth all in one fell swoop! They would decimate everything in their path and landing zone, that being our home of six and a half years, where it stood, while we were in it!

   These mighty 70-80 metre Mountain Ash are beautiful, wonderful, and amazing to behold, but when they let go of the earth, can cause destruction and devastation like a hurricane, which we were going to find out first hand.

   Our neighbour, who’s trees had fallen, went outside because he heard a loud crunch and thought his BBQ had been squashed. As he shone his torch into the darkness, he was to see our lovely little house was no longer, it was split in two. He immediately called the SES. Of course, I did not know that, but am very thankful for his quick thinking.

    Fortunately my child, doggo and I had MIRACULOUSLY been missed by the three giants that crashed, uninvited through the middle of our home. Unfortunately, I had been hit by a rather large, heavy beam that made up our A frames roof. The exposed beam, free from its bolts, knocked me out and sent me sprawling to the floor amidst the wood and rubble. I'm not sure of the amount of time that had passed before I awoke.

    It was dark, the howling weather that was outside all day was now inside, wind, rain and darkness had enveloped us. My brain went into survival mode. Luckily my phone was always on me at bedtime and hadn’t been damaged in the fall.  I was on the phone to triple zero, with no recollection later of having called them, but talking to a very calm lady. I could hear my child calling for me somewhere in the abyss that once was our home, frantic, as he didn’t know if I was alive or not! Such a brave boy. It was sheer relief to hear his voice as I know it was the same for him. Our doggo too was ok, he was at my heel barking at the storm. The call to triple zero was reasonably calm considering what had just taken place. The operator asked if we were ok, I told her child was unharmed, but I was not so lucky, I was bleeding. I could feel a gash on my head, which had exposed my skull, and my nose was running like a tap and my body was sore. The operator told me to apply pressure with anything I could find. I grabbed off my dressing gown tie and pressed hard, all the while telling child it would all be ok, and I was ok. He was scared and trapped upstairs, all alone, in the darkness, so he really did need this reassurance from the mamma bear. Miraculously he was fine, in one piece, as the trees had missed him by a bee’s willy! We would later see after we were rescued and in the safety of our other neighbour’s house, that he had been slashed on his cheek by a branch that whipped past him as he stood at the top of the stairs waiting for me to come to bed. So, so lucky were we!

    Once the triple zero call had ended, we were alone. We had no idea who or how long it was going to take to get us out. Our house was on stilts, so how were they going to get to us?! So, in the darkness I sat with my dog, holding my head wound, to scared to turn on my phone light as I didn’t want to see the devastation... yet. Instead, I spoke to my little boy and called the other neighbour to see if they would mind my dog for me once we were rescued, as I knew a hospital stay was on the cards. So even in the midst of chaos I couldn’t stop my anxious brain for a second.

    Upstairs and stuck all by himself, my child was so resilient and brave. He loves books so he turned on his night light, which was always charged, and he sat on his bed and read a book until the SES turned up.

     Not too sure on how long we actually waited, but it was a sweet relief when they finally got to us. They called me to see whereabouts we were in the house and whether there was another door, as all access from the back and side were blocked by the trees that were through the middle of our house. I told them that we had another door on the balcony side, driveway end that was still intact, amazingly so, as that end of the house was all glass... another very dangerous situation ahead, as it could have gone at any minute! I also didn’t know how safe the balcony was. We would later see in the light of day that the steel underneath had been severely bent and it was very dangerous. These amazingly brave volunteers, risking their lives for me, a stranger, in the hurricane-like winds and pouring rain, carefully climbed over the slippery trees that were blocking access and made it to the balcony door. We were going to be out of there soon!

   So, with calmness, but swiftness we were all rescued, they even grabbed my child’s snow jacket from the hook upstairs that had been hanging in the line of rescue they took to get my child over the trees. We then all exited from the balcony door, injured and in pjs and slippers proceeded to climb over the last obstacle, that being the poor giants that no longer stood tall. The kindness and professional nature which these volunteers gave will never be forgotten, such unsung heroes. I thank them from the bottom of my soul.

  Through the wind and the rain we slipped our way over the fence to our other neighbour’s house, where we would sit for the next couple of hours to await the ambulance. By now the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road was blocked by a tree so nobody could get through. It was a very sore and dizzy wait for our other rescuers. The SES had cut enough tree so that police would get through and make their way to where we were. They then escorted my child and I to a waiting ambulance in Sassafras. We were informed that I would have to be taken to Maroondah Hospital, as there wasn’t a doctor at the Angliss that could deal with my head trauma, so with branches coming down, rain pouring and slippery roads, we headed to that hospital. These paramedics were so lovely and made my child feel special and safe, which I also will never forget.

  So, into the triage area I went and waited... and waited some more! Only to be told I would have to go to the Royal Melbourne hospital. The Maroondah was only running on generators and again no head trauma doctor. It was not very pleasant at all. My wound was still exposed, and I had to ask them to cover it up as they hadn’t yet, and to clean me up a little because I was covered in blood, why did I have to ask? I don't know. After hours I was moved into a more, somewhat private section to await transport to Melbourne. My child was collected by my brother ..

   After more than 12 hours my ambulance came, and I was taken to the Royal Melbourne. Not a hospital I would ever choose! I had tests, CTs and x-rays to see if there was any other damage. I was one lucky cat, I ended up with an exposed skull, which was fixed so neatly, lacerated kidney, which would heal itself, shattered nose, that couldn’t be touched so it too would heal straight, concussion, vertigo that would last more than a year, cuts and bruises. So really, considering the state of our house I escaped pretty lightly!

I spent a very lonely, sore, dizzy week in the hospital, I couldn’t have any visitors as we were in lock down, so an extra awful experience. I was very glad to be going home after that week. I know nurses are busy, but there wasn’t a lot of compassion or empathy going around. One kind nurse over that week got me a nice coffee!

So, with my bag of wet, stinking pjs and dressing gown (the nurses said there wasn’t anything they could do to dry them, so popped them in a bag and that's where they sat for a week) I headed to my brother’s house to start to rebuild our lives, starting with trying to find somewhere child and I could live.

All while we were still in lockdown, and I was still feeling super lousy. More trees had come down and tore the rest of our home to pieces, we had lost everything in this storm, apart from a few keepsakes we managed to scrounge out of the rubble that used to be our home.

 A new chapter of a page I wouldn’t have turned had begun.

So long beautiful forest tree cubby...


I am now living ….


Hi Liz,

I have attached a document with my Storm Story from 2021.

This was originally prepared for my family and friends. Hopefully it can contribute to the stories and articles you are collecting.

I was living alone in Panorama Rd, Kalorama and my husband Dick Wallace was permanently in a care home in Kilsyth because he had Parkinsons. My next door neighbour Lyn Osborne was also on her own. Her husband David had recently died of cancer. 

We were great support for each other as I tried to sell the house and move to a retirement village and she was completing renovations to turn her less than satisfactory bathroom/toilet/laundry into a functional and beautiful space.

This is what happened on the night of June 10th 2021

In 2024 Lyn's house remains wrapped in tarpaulins but eventually she managed to sell for a good price and move to Mooroolbark.


Kind regards,

Nancy Wallace

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