Highbank hopes

Watching your home go up in flames is dreadful. Watching it burn after having spent years meticulously restoring and renovating it is utterly heartbreaking.
But it’s not enough to keep Tonia Todman and Michael Dowding from starting over and restoring their historic Kyneton homestead Highbank, which was gutted by fire three weeks ago.
The couple are staying in a nearby B&B as they tackle the daunting task of assessing what can be saved at their home, but first want to thank all those who have come to their aid.
The shire council, for one, for providing them with emergency accommodation after the fire.
“They were there an hour after it was apparent that we would be out of the house, they were brilliant,” Tonia said.
Michael said they had also been overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness of the community.
“We’ve always known Kyneton’s a lovely community to live in but within hours we were getting phone calls of support, offers of help, clothing turned up, food turned up, it was just amazing,” he said.
Tonia said they couldn’t thank the emergency services personnel who turned out to the fire enough.
“The fire brigade especially were nothing short of amazing,” she said.
“They were sitting us down, putting blankets around us, they were keeping us informed and rescuing paintings and what they could.
“They are all selfless and magnificent, and we are so very lucky to have them.
“This country should be run by the CFA and the CWA because we’d be safe and organised before we knew it!”
Highbank dates back 160 years to its first life as a Clydesdale stud and was one of the earliest bluestone farmhouses in Kyneton.
Much of the timber section of the home survived the fire and some of the bluestone walling can be saved.
Tonia and Michael hope to rebuild the homestead as best they can but say they have been left disappointed by their dealings with their insurance agency.
“We’re in the hands of people who don’t care as much as we do and that’s a shame,” Tonia said.

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