Around Saturday, January 4, 2020, the Dunns Road Fire devastated much of Batlow’s surrounding farmland — killing livestock, and consuming vast swathes of the region's famous orchards.
The high-altitude area is renowned for its fruit, producing about 10 per cent of Australia's annual apple crop. As is so often the case with bushfires, the scale of the damage varied across the area. While some farms suffered no or very little damage, others lost almost everything.
And, since apple trees can take the best part of a decade to mature, the fire has left some farmers with the daunting prospect of an eight-year-long wait to replace their lost income. Many orchardists are now wondering if they can last that long, and what it might cost the town and region in the meantime.