Remembering the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires

16 February 2023 | Media Release

The forest landscape has long since recovered but for ForestrySA, the devastation of one of Australia’s deadliest bushfires remains a poignant lesson in resilience, innovation and forest firefighting, four decades on.

Today marks 40 years since the horror of the Ash Wednesday bushfires unfolded on 16 February 1983, killing 75 people and causing widespread destruction across South Australia and Victoria.

A quarter of the state-owned former Woods and Forests pine plantation estate – 21,000 hectares – was lost in a single day, following three separate blazes in the Green Triangle (Limestone Coast), Kuitpo and Mount Crawford.

Today, ForestrySA staff have stopped to remember and reflect on the contributions of many staff, CFS volunteers and the long-term efforts to restore the plantation resource. These trees are still thriving today, for the benefit of the communities in which they grow.

The tragic losses sustained that day will never be forgotten.