Bid on a Print of my Work to Benefit Bushfire Survivors

[Update - 19th Feb] The auction has ended. Congratulations to the winner Anna Hibberd! The final ammount raised by the auction was $160USD or $250AUD. There will be a follow up post soon with more details.

[Update] I initially listed this auction on ebay, but ebay informed me that only registered charities can host fundraising auctions on ebay. So, at the suggestion of Vanessa, I have installed a tool to run the auction right here on my blog. Please bid in the right column. Note, the auction currency is US dollars – payment made via credit card of PayPal account. I have edited this entry add all the information from the ebay listing to the bottom of the post.

The Blackest Week

This has been a very hard post to make. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, of the horrific bushfires that have swept through my state over the last week, claiming more than 180 lives, and making 5000 people homeless. Over 320,000 hectares (1250+ sq miles) have been destroyed, along with tens of thousands of animals.

Watching the news, listening to the radio and engaging in discussion on Twitter all week, there have been many times where I’ve struggled to hold back the tears. This is the worst natural disaster our country has ever suffered, and everyone knows someone who knows someone who have lost their homes or a loved one. I have a friend, Erin, who’s brother is a CFA member (volunteer firefighter) and who lost his house while defending others. She has many relatives who lost their homes, and the town she grew up in has lost a significant portion of its entire population, and she knew most of them well.

The outpouring of support, donations and volunteers helping to get everyone back on their feet has been incredible – approximately $75million has been raised in less than a week (don’t forget this is in a country with a population of only 20 million, in a recession and with our dollar worth 2/3 of the US dollar). However the fires are still burning, with more than 20 large fires yet to be brought under control, and more hot, windy weather predicted for the weekend.

Fine Art Photo Print Auction

Naomi and I have already decided to donate what we can, but things have been financially difficult for us for a while, so what we can contribute is limited. However, I have decided to try and take advantage of my photography, and the network of people I know to raise some money.

I have decided to donate the money raised from the auction to my friend Erin’s brother Ben, the heroic CFA volunteer who lost everything while trying to save others. I’ll be paying for printing and shipping to anywhere in the world, so that every cent you bid will go to helping Ben and his family rebuild their lives. This man is a hero and deserves every little support we can manage. So please dig deep, and bid generously, via the box in the right column! Note the auction currency is US dollars – payment made via credit card of PayPal account.

If you can’t bid (or even if you can) please try to spread the word of this auction as wide as you can. Share this post via social networks, email it to your friends, link to it from your blog, talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. Help get as many interested people looking here as possible! Thank you!

Auction Details

Help a family recovering from the fires

This week, the Australian state of Victoria has been ablaze with the worst bushfires the country has ever seen. More than 180 people are dead, and 5000 homeless. http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/bushfires/

There are many stories of suffering and loss, but one of them in particular has touched me. A friend of mine, Erin, used to live in Kinglake, one of the worst-hit areas. Most of her family still lives there, and they have lost everything. Her brother Ben, a father and CFA member (volunteer firefighter), was away from his home, fighting the huge fires elsewhere when his house burned down (his family are safe).

Buy a fine art print of a country Victorian scene

To raise money for this family, one of thousands affected, I am offering for sale a high quality fine art print of my award-winning photo “Winding Country Road” (see image above). The winning bidder will receive a 26cm x 40cm print of this photo on high quality archival photo paper, shipped rolled in a sturdy mailing tube. The back of the photo will be signed and marked as 1/2 indicating the first copy of a limited edition of two. The full auction price will be donated to bushfire survivors.

This photograph was taken a number of years ago, near Mansfield, country Victoria, a stone’s throw from some of the most intense fires. The landscape depicted is typical of the country that was utterly destroyed by the fire.

The photo was entered into the 2006 Royal Melbourne Show photo competition, and was awarded “Best colour digital photo” and “Best in show – photography”. The photo will have an extremely limited run of only two copies – one for you and one for Ben and his family. No additional prints of this photo will ever be made, so your copy will be unique. I will cover the cost of printing and shipping to anywhere in the world.

I am a professional photographer, my professional web site is located at http://neilcreek.com. If you want to check my credentials to ensure that this auction is legitimate and not a scam, feel free to call me on 0422 703 286. As a photographer, my reputation is everything, so I am putting that on the line here and give my word that every cent raised in this auction will go to Ben and his family, for them to use as they need.

Ben and His Home

Ben, CFA volunteer

The remains of Ben's home

The Survivors’ Story

My friend Erin’s brother Andrew is a writer, and tells of his admiration for their brother Ben, who lost his house while protecting others’:

Kinglake

I barely recognise the streets on TV. They’re black and burned away.

I lived in Kinglake with my family till I was twenty three. My parents, luckily, moved away two years ago. But my brother stayed. He lost his house. My brother is one of the senior members of the Kinglake CFA. Earlier in the day, they were called to assist the brigade at Strathewen with a bushfire. At that stage, there was no legitimate threat to Kinglake. My brother has committed most of his free time to being a fire fighter. He’s always wanted to do it full time but has had trouble because he has a history of asthma. He worked for the Department of Sustainability and Environment, fighting forest fires and controlled burns in their helicopter team a few years back. He has become an expert at managing bushfires. But he wasn’t home when the wind changed.

Reports from friends, former neighbours, relatives, all say the same thing, that it happened so fast. You can’t even gauge it. It came so quick. My old neighbour was on the phone to her daughter, who was warning her to get out. She went outside, looked at the hills in the distance, the hint of smoke, and she figured they were safe. In literally ten minutes, she was running up the road away from the flames.

My aunty freed her horses. Not sure if they’ve saved them all yet. My grandma watered down her roof and stayed till they had to go. Her house was spared.

My brother is still out fighting the Kinglake fire. He’s been working virtually non-stop since it began. I think he’s trying to keep busy so he doesn’t have to stop and think about it. About the town being burned to nothing. The dead bodies in the paddocks. In the burnt out cars along the roads. About his house, his stuff, all gone. And the one thing that always stands out for me with my brother Ben is that he’s a good person. He would do anything to help out anyone. He has always put himself out to assist others. His entire life is dedicated to taking care of his young daughter and helping the local CFA. He would sacrifice his personal happiness to achieve this, without any hesitation. Yet he’s the one who gets the bad deal. It’s always such a confusing equation, in that you want for good things to happen to good people. It saddens me that this is not the case.

To the many families affected, many of whom I know, my sympathies go out to you all. I am driving down to Melbourne tomorrow to see if I can help in any way. I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything much, but just to help my family. Just to be close enough to be able to assist if necessary.

To my brother, still out, still fighting. I see the efforts you go to. The ways you push yourself to make other people happy. I hate seeing it at times. But you’re a better person than I could ever hope to be.

The world is a better place for having you in it.”

4 comments


  • There is a wordpress plugin, that allows you to run auctions from your sidebar. Plus no fees to pay – because YOU are running the auction. Hang on, I’ll email it to you.

    February 12, 2009
  • grandmarocks/Pauline

    glad to finally hear from you. I was worried about you and your family. Do you know if Chrissy downunder is ok?

    February 13, 2009
  • Melissa

    I am so glad to hear of people like you doing this type of thing to help our first responders. They are very important to us and they are only thought of as helping others and are not thought of when they have a loss. They usually do not ask for any help as they are suffering as much and sometimes more than the others. They have to live day to day seeing the bad things that happens. My husband is a firefighter and there is soo much they have to deal with. Thank You for helping out in any way you can. Your work is amazing.

    February 22, 2009
  • Thank you, Neil, for your heart-breaking report and images from this tragedy. I’m writing from the Pacific Northwest of the US, but your work has done a great deal to bring me to a better understanding of these events; it’s made it a smaller world for me. I’m sorry I missed the auction…

    Looking forward to following your work…

    March 15, 2009

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