At the end of 2019, Charles Sturt veterinary student Mr Liam Mowbray witnessed devastation but is thankful to the University for making life easier as he continues his studies.
It was a tumultuous end to 2019 for Charles Sturt University student Mr Liam Mowbray as he watched his family’s Rainbow Flat property be destroyed by bushfire.
It took about 15 minutes for fire to travel the length of the property, destroying fences, yards and paddocks, and it was a similar scene for many other properties at Rainbow Flat, about 100km from Port Macquarie.
“The impact of this event has been incredibly devastating for our family,” he said.
“Initially we spent nearly two weeks in isolation without power, cut off from the rest of the world.
“Most of our attention was towards putting out smouldering fires, searching for lost cattle in neighbouring burnt scrubland, and frantically trying to stock-proof paddocks and holding yards.”
Mr Mowbray and his wife also run their own Angus breeding operation, in addition to helping on the family farm, and were left with feed bills and the strain of feeding cattle twice a day.
Despite having a life on the land ingrained into his blood, Mr Mowbray previously worked as a radiotherapist at the North Coast Cancer Institute on the NSW Mid North Coast before his rural background inspired a career change.
He was accepted to study a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honours) and moved to Wagga Wagga to commence his studies in 2015.
“I love the rural focus at Charles Sturt University and the strong communities built around rugby and the Wagga Wagga Veterinary Clinical Centre,” he said.
As he entered his final year of study in 2020 he was informed of the Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarship by a few friends.
Mr Mowbray was one of six recipients who each received a $5,000 scholarship.
“There were so many families and communities all over Australia who were affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires,” he said.
“My family and I were so incredibly grateful that I was then considered for the scholarship.
“It’s difficult to articulate just how thankful and appreciative I am.”
Charles Sturt Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov said the University recognised the devastating affect the fires had on staff and students.
“The bushfires earlier this year affected many of our students, some were displaced and others lost everything,” he said.
“The Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarships were established to alleviate some of the financial pressure and provide vital support to our students who have been affected by the bushfires.”
And 2020 looks like it will end on a more positive note than it started for Mr Mowbray.
He has secured a job as a mixed practice veterinarian with Taree Veterinary Hospital on the Mid North Coast of NSW after he graduates.
“After six fantastic years in Wagga Wagga, I’m very excited to be moving back to the community where I grew up and give back in whatever ways I can,” he said.
A full list of scholarships on offer by Charles Sturt is available on the University’s website.