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Laine Clark

Funding boost for region still reeling from deadly fire

A bushfire destroyed 58 homes in Tara, Queensland, in late 2023 (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Some people are still fatigued months after battling a deadly blaze that devastated their region west of Brisbane.

Others on the Western Downs may take years to rebuild after the ferocious blaze destroyed more Queensland homes than the Black Summer disaster.

But Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh is confident the region will bounce back after receiving a $1 million recovery package.

After a 10-day battle, a huge bushfire was finally contained near Tara in early November.

The blaze claimed a life, burned 26,000 hectares and forced hundreds to evacuate.

The Tara fire destroyed 58 homes, nine more than the 2019 Black Summer blaze claimed across Queensland.

Mr McVeigh said locals who fought the fire were still recovering.

"They are still worn out," he told AAP.

Bushfire at Tara
People are still recovering after a bushfire tore through the town of Tara in Queensland. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

"The fires were a very stressful time, not just for the victims but also those who fought the fires.

"Although it goes back a few months there is still some fatigue."

At least there was some respite on Monday.

People who helped fight the blaze were celebrated at a special luncheon attended by new Disaster Recovery Minister Nikki Boyd on the Western Downs.

There was another shot in the arm on Monday - a $1 million state-federal grant for the Western Downs Council to help rebuild after the Tara fires.

They were also one of nine regions that shared $5 million in state-federal government funding to help farmers and primary producers impacted by bushfires last year.

The other regions were Bundaberg, Central Highlands, Gladstone, Maranoa, North and South Burnett, Southern Downs and Toowoomba.

Mr McVeigh said the Western Downs council had not yet finalised how it would spend the money.

But he added: "It won't be hard".

"It will potentially be infrastructure of some nature," he said.

"Our focus will be what is the best investment to lift that community."

Some lost everything in the fires.

"It is going to take quite a few years to get everything back on track," Mr McVeigh said.

"It's pretty hard when you have had 58 homes destroyed. Trying to get people back into some sort of accommodation is very tough."

But there are encouraging signs.

Some people have been able to return home while work is almost complete redeveloping an old caravan park in Tara with intermediate housing.

In another sign of progress, some caravans set up for the displaced at Tara showgrounds have relocated to the far north for communities devastated by record flooding by another disaster, Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

They have even had rain at Western Downs, one of the state's biggest producers of beef, pork, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley and mung beans.

"It's greening up," Mr McVeigh said.

"But one rain event doesn't make up a heap of feed or build back a house - it's going to take some time."

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