Six firey females - Ros Hocking

Six firey females - Ros Hocking

Meet Ros Hocking. Wanilla CFS brigade captain, wool classer and Mum of three at the family farm on the Lower Eyre Peninsula.

It’s a balancing act that Ros handles with grace and professionalism and it’s the reason we’re shining a light on some of our fantastic female leaders.

Overlooking the Marble Ranges, Wanilla captain Roslyn Hocking and her family often see thunderstorms and wild weather approaching their farm.

“As soon as the lightning cracks over the hilltops on those hot days, that’s when we have a conversation with the kids about enacting our Bushfire Survival Plan and what we need to do as a family of firefighters,” she said.

Ros, her parents and husband are all CFS volunteers at Wanilla station - a region prone to bushfires.

“We know only too well how quickly fires can tear through the Lower Eyre, so we take all the necessary precautions – from our FFU’s (Farm Fire Units) to having a cabinet stocked with an emergency kit- in case we need to evacuate,” she said.

Despite that level of preparedness, Ros says bushfires can still be a highly stressful experience and her young daughter would often become upset when the family heads out to fight fires.

But there is help for her and others, thanks to the program CFS Firey Women.

Roslyn’s daughter, about 3 years ago, attended a series of workshops which provides South Australian women and girls a setting to learn practical skills to prepare for bushfires. The workshops also encourage participants to consider emotional preparation, an often-overlooked part of being bushfire ready, according to Director of Community Risk and Resilience, Alison May.

Firey Women came together after the 2005 Wangary bushfires on Eyre Peninsula and has grown to be delivered throughout the state.

“These workshops are run pre-Fire Danger Season and cover topics including understanding bushfire behaviour, deciding when to “leave early” or “stay and defend” and understanding Fire Danger Ratings and warnings,” Alison said.

When there’s no risk of fire or responding to incidents, Ros can spend more time raising her family or at her day job, as a wool classer in shearing sheds across the Eyre Peninsula and in the station country.

‘I’ve been a ‘rousy’ since I was 18 and it involves picking, classing and pressing the wool after they’ve been shorn from the sheep.

“It’s a great job and a good community of farmers here. I have picked up the handpiece, but rousting is my thing and I’ll go through the wool of up to 45,000 sheep a year- mostly merino,” Ros said.

And when the working day is done, Captain Hocking still somehow finds time to wear her CFS captain’s hat and lead the Wanilla team of 9.

“They’re a great bunch of people and a really good mix of experienced firies, who are ready to serve the community- with my family members included, of course!” Ros said.

07 March 2024