|Abstract|| This research explores the life experiences of families and couples who lived through the Wangary fire (South Australia, January 2005). Examining the bushfire experience from a domestic perspective is long overdue.
Open-ended interviews were conducted with thirty-eight couples and families across the fire-affected region on the Lower Eyre Peninsula. A shortlist of fourteen were analysed in detail and they form the foundation of this thesis.
These bushfire narratives include the perspectives of farming and non-farming families and cover a wide spectrum of circumstances and demographics. Five of the fourteen families lost their homes in the Wangary fire.
Critical decision-making and the presence of children is at the heart of this case study. How the presence of babies and young children influences family decision-making, in advance of or during a bushfire, has not been considered or studied in any detail within the Australian research landscape.
Exploring the differences of experience between women with young families and older women confirms the primary weakness of the national bushfire safety ('stay or go') policy. Gender and generation were the two defining factors that informed how people responded to and recovered from the Wangary fire. The perspective of younger people, within the context of bushfire research, has been neglected in the past; this case study incorporates their views and thoughts.
It is hoped that insights gleaned from these bushfire narratives will encourage the enhancement of the national 'stay or go' policy.