What you will find on this page: what is the network; network purpose; disclaimerclusters formed for each fire season; information session details; contacts for more information; community support for network. (links in blue)  

For more information access other FireAware Network pages: Neighbourhood clusters; Understanding risk; Be prepared; Role of council & emergency services; Resources

Brown Hill Community FireAware Network 

Did you know that Brown Hill is in a Bushfire Prone Area?

Latest News

22 January 2020, The Conversation, Scientists hate to say ‘I told you so’. But Australia, you were warned. Those who say “I told you so” are rarely welcomed, yet I am going to say it here. Australian scientists warned the country could face a climate change-driven bushfire crisis by 2020. It arrived on schedule. For several decades, the world’s scientific community has periodically assessed climate science, including the risks of a rapidly changing climate. Australian scientists have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to this global effort. I am an Earth System scientist, and for 30 years have studied how humans are changing the way our planet functions. Scientists have, clearly and respectfully, warned about the risks to Australia of a rapidly heating climate – more extreme heat, changes to rainfall patternsrising seas, increased coastal flooding and more dangerous bushfire conditions. We have also warned about the consequences of these changes for our health and well-being, our society and economy, our natural ecosystems and our unique wildlife. Today, I will join Dr Tom Beer and Professor David Bowman to warn that Australia’s bushfire conditions will become more severe. We call on Australians, particularly our leaders, to heed the science. Read more here

End Latest News

Improving mobile phone reception for Brown Hill residents northside – GOOD NEWS!

MARCH 2023: Many Brown Hill residents northside, especially those who live in the area around Springs Rd have reported poor, intermittent or non-existent mobile phone coverage for many years.  As this is an area of high bushfire risk, Brown Hill Bushfire Network believe a strong and consistent mobile phone coverage should be seen as an essential communication tool during emergency events.

One of our Cluster Contacts, Jeff Dobell, put together a survey of residents in the affected area in 2020. At the close of the survey 168 responses had been received. This was a great response when it was estimated there were around 350-450 houses in the designated area. Many thanks to all the residents that took part in the survey. The responses supported our concerns that phone reception was poor to non-existent in a significant proportion of the area.

And now to the good news! An exciting development towards improving mobile phone reception in northside Brown Hill maybe one step closer. A resident in Hill View Road, has received a letter advising that Telstra is proposing to build a mobile phone tower on Central Highlands Water land facing Gong Gong Rd, Brown Hill. This is a high point overlooking the Springs Road valley and surrounds. Jeff is also aware that Optus is similarly exploring sites in the same area for a phone tower. Let’s hope that all will be installed well before they are needed!

The letter states: Notification of Planning Permit Application. Proposed Telecommunications Facility at 265 Daylesford Rd, Gong Gong…The antennas will provide Telstra 4G/5G telecommunications to the area; funding through Connecting Victoria Program.

Know The Fire Danger Ratings

From 1 September 2022, Australia has a simplified, action-oriented fire danger rating system. The move to a simpler system is informed by extensive community consultation and backed by improvements in science, which will mean we can better predict areas of greater risk on days of fire danger. The Australian Fire Danger Rating System uses four easy to recognise rating levels, each with a message to encourage you to take action to protect yourself and others in the face of bushfire risk.


Bushfire outlook 

Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for 2023/2024

Have you ever been in a bushfire ember storm?

Click on the image below taken by ABC News of the Sunshine Coast bushfire ember attack during height of firestorm, early September 2019.

Fire invading the suburbs of Canberra 2003



Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL)  for buildings in Fire Prone Areas

BAL levels




What are Bushfire Prone Areas? Bushfire Prone Areas are areas that are subject to or likely to be subject to bushfires. To view the Bushfire Prone Area of Brown Hill access the link here. Source: Visualising Ballarat. 

Bushfire protection and my property: This is the main Vic DELWP site  You can get your own property report from this page in regard to planning overlays. A Guide to retrofit your home for better protection from a bushfire:This guide, among other things provides a simple table that outlines low /moderate and high cost alternatives and sets out different requirements for the BAL ratings. Access guide here: A-guide-to-Retrofit-Your-Home-for-Better-Protection-from-a-Bushfire_2014 (1)

A Guide to Windows and Doors in Bushfire Prone AreasAnother more detailed guide for windows and doors. FAQs – Bushfire Prone Planning – BAL Assessments. Even though this site relates to WA I found the information provided  quite useful. Contact City of Ballarat for more specific details on 5320 5500


Also refer to the following FireAware Network pages:


What is the Brown Hill Community FireAware Network?

Penny enhancedThe network consists of “walkable” Neighbourhood Clusters, spread across the suburb of Brown Hill – a priority being the households/streets on the urban-rural interface of Brown Hill along the Yarrowee River and the growing number of subdivisions of Brown Hill north of the freeway, all located within the designated Bushfire Prone Area. 

(Penny Platypus is the mascot for the Network – learn more about Penny here)



What is the purpose of a cluster?

  • to provide a yearly reminder of the need to prepare for the fire season;
  • to present in a variety of ways information that is relevant to a specific neighbourhood;
  • to highlight that it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware and prepared to act in a fire event impacting on their community or a community nearby;
  • to encourage in households the “habit” of preparation



Please note the information provided through the information sessions and web pages is not for the purpose of giving specific advice. The information is offered in good faith for those wishing to know more about the potential risk to their community and wanting to take responsibility for their own informed decisions.  The information and material offered is freely available from a number of sources, primarily fire/emergency services sites such as CFA and other State emergency services and research institutions.


Clusters for the 2023/2024 fire season

There are nine neighbourhood clusters for the pre-fire season of 2021/2022. Access more details here

Five north of the freeway

  • Ditchfield/Benson (approx 60 households)
  • Coorabin Estate (approx. 110 households)
  • Janson Rd & Stringybark Dr (approx. 100 households)
  • Orchard Lane (approx. 20 households)
  • Aplle Orchard Estate (approx. 130 households)


Four south of the freeway

  • Mancev Crt (approx. 20 households)
  • Russell Sq & Lane St (approx. 230 households)
  • Finlay St Sth & Bradbury St (approx 100 households)
  • Dalma/ Ryan St Sth (approx. 25 households)


Information sessions available through clusters

Penny Platypus for webClusters offer information sessions, as requested, to their cluster residents specifically tailored to their location:

Sessions can cover a range of topics, for example:

Presentation of the risk of a fire event impacting on the community of Brown Hill and in particular the neighbourhood cluster location involved:

  • Myths relating to fire and household safety;
  • Reality of urban fire risk highlighting ember attacks – varying intensity & duration;
  • Overview of Brown Hill community risk; 
  • Specific risks to the cluster location;
  • What it is like to be near a bushfire


Preparing household and property prior to the fire season:

  • Fire weather awareness – Fire Danger Ratings;
  • Review of high and low risk within the cluster (direct and indirect impact);
  • Overview of preparation required for both levels;
  • Basics for pre-season property preparation;
  • Basics for household bushfire plans


Wanting more information about the Network?

NETWORK CONTACT: Hazen – hmc433@hotmail.com 

CLUSTER CONTACTS details access here


What community support is there for the Network?

The following have offered their support to the Network in a variety of ways as a means to help raise the awareness of residents of Brown Hill of the bushfire risk to the urban interface and assist them in preparing for such an event:

bhpa logo


Brown Hill Progress Association


Country Fire Authority (Ballarat local office)

City of Ballarat Logo_NAVY_CMYK


City of Ballarat


Tolhurst Bushfire Services_Logo


Dr Kevin Tolhurst (Tolhurst Bushfire Services)

In 2015 Kevin was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to science through land and bushfire management, and to the community through providing expert advice at fire emergencies.  He works and lives in Creswick and therefore has a wealth of knowledge of our local area. 

With much sadness we heard of Kevin’s sudden death on the 5 October 2023. Kevin’s contribution to forest and fire management has been phenomenal. His knowledge and passion were truly awe-inspiring. One of hos colleagues, Fire Management Victoria chief fire officer Chris Hardman said on Kevin’s passing, ““Kevin is one of the architects of reshaping bushfire modelling in Victoria. One of his real superpowers as a highly regarded academic was his ability to take complex scientific messaging and make it so regular people could understand it.” In forming the Brown Hill FireAware Network, I was one of the beneficiaries of his “superpowers”. He will be sorely missed. Hazen.

Gary Morgan       AM AFSM; Principal Consultant; Global Wildland Fire Management Services

Gary Morgan former Bushfire CRC CEO was recognised for his significant service to the community with an Australia Day honour in 2018, Becoming a member of the Order of Australia (AM). Gary was awarded this honour for his significant service to the community through emergency response organisations, and to forest and fire research and management. He has spent more than 20 years in senior land and fire management roles. As Victoria’s Chief Fire Officer for public lands, for nine years, he was responsible for the management and deployment of fire suppression personnel. He became the CEO of the Bushfire CRC in mid-2007. He is a long time resident f Ballarat. 

Copy of PLEA Network LOGO


PLEA Network


  • Penny Platypus


Penny Platypus photoPenny is the Network’s mascot, who is a very large platypus, a long time resident of the Yarrowee and was created to promote the “Ballarat’ Regional Conservation Strategy” in the early 1990’s. Penny has come out of retirement to put her name to and support the network. Many thanks to her creator Leanne Westblade (1991).