In all his days in Junee, John Higginson remembers none like January 1, 2006.
“Three minutes past one o’clock. Anne called me to the kitchen window, said ‘Is that dust or smoke?’,” he said.
“Within 20 minutes the fire was on our property.”
The fire came as close as the house’s gutters and destroyed 85 per cent of their property.
“Nurses had to come with saline for our eyes,” he said.
That day had a fairly big impact to not just us but the community. That set us back especially since we were already in drought.- John Higginson
But the day that really defined the town came a decade before, in 1991.
Living along the Mad Mile, Mr and Mrs Higginson have had a front row seat to the Junee Correctional Centre throughout each of its history.
“It’s kept Junee on the map and been the biggest influence on the town since I was a child.”
Mr Higginson and his wife have long been prominent business operators and community leaders.
Currently, he is serving as the Rotary organiser of the monthly farmer’s market, with the next to be held this weekend.
Born in Ireland, Mr Higginson immigrated in 1961 when he was just four-years-old.
When he later returned to his mother country, he met the woman who would become his wife and promptly followed her around the world.
“When she came out to Australia for nine months in 1978, we met up again in Victoria,” he said.
“Before she went home, we got engaged.”
A year later they were wed in Ireland before moving back to Australia and settling in Junee, and the couple have never regretted the decision.