On 17 October 2013 the Blue Mountains was ravaged by some of the worst bushfires ever experienced. Winmalee, Springwood, Yellow Rock and Mount Victoria were all seriously impacted, with the loss of over 200 homes. Local schools played an important role in keeping students safe as the emergency unfolded in the early afternoon. I had the very great pleasure of being a special guest recently at Winmalee High School's performance of Straw Hats, Thongs and Toothbrushes—Stories of Accelerated Intimacy After the 2013 BM Fires.
This unique production explored the impact of the fires and recovery process. Interviews of residents were conducted by the students and incorporated into three acts of approximately 18 snapshot moments and memories. The performance elicited moments of intense laughter followed by tears as the audience experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. I congratulate all the fantastic elective drama students at Winmalee High School, as well as principal Katrina Middlebrook, school counsellor Rose Glassock and her team, teachers Madeleine Sheehy, Voula Facas, Jarrah Tippet-Moore, and the entire stage construction and lighting and sound team.