IT takes more than a bushfire to keep Tasmanian farmers Ray and Sue Schwanke from their oyster leases.
They may have lost their packing sheds, their boats and barges, tractors, home and all their oyster equipment as the blaze roared down the hills to destroy most of the homes and sand foreshore of Boomer Bay last month, The Australian reports.
But the oysters on their Blue Lagoon deepwater leases in nearby Marion Bay won't stop maturing because of a bushfire.
And with replacement costs for their business running past the $1.3 million mark but insured for only $650,000, the Schwankes say the only thing they can do is keep farming and selling oysters.
"Our oysters were ready and we wanted to meet our orders from the mainland," said Ray.
"But it's not just about the money; it's about the community and there's also all our employees."
The Schwankes are not alone - sadly, few of the area's aquaculture businesses have been left untouched by the fires.
Tom Gray of Fulham Oysters, watched helplessly as fireballs rolled across the family farm, killing sheep, burning his oyster sheds, tractor and boat, and melting a giant pile of plastic oyster baskets. Luckily, judicious water bombing by helicopters saved his home and his parents' historic house.
"Slowly but surely we are getting back on track," he said.
Up the road the Cold Gold Abalone farm was well prepared for loss of mains power.
It had both its own generators and some back-up ones to ensure the vital fresh seawater - which keeps its young abalone alive - pumping. But the fire was so hot that its major seawater intake pipe melted, with the loss of between $2m and $4m worth of young abalone.
Cameron's Oysters in the centre of Dunalley, which supplies 40 per cent of Australia's immature baby oyster spats to other farmers to grow out, narrowly escaped a similar fate.
The fire robbed Cameron's Oysters of power, melted its freshwater tanks and burned the only back-up generator. Critically it left the inside ponds in the hatchery and creche nursery filled with 110 million delicate tiny oyster larvae high and dry.
Without electricity to drive the pumps, managing director Ben Cameron knew he had less than 36 hours before all the baby oysters were dead.
"By Saturday morning it was desperate; we had one day at most to get power on and water over (the tiny spats) by first thing Sunday or they would all die," Cameron recalled.
"That was when I got my fiancee to send out the first plea on Facebook."
The Camerons used the site to make an urgent request for any trained electricians to fix the broken generator. He also asked if anyone had spare generators. Seven electricians were there by midday. Two new generators appeared on the back of trucks, somehow getting through police blockades. Together the volunteer "sparkies" worked until late Saturday night on the damaged generator to get back-up power on and the water pumps going. With just a couple of hours to spare, new saltwater was washing over his stricken young spat, saving two-thirds.
Read more at The Australian.