Can you imagine seeing a wall of flames heading towards you as you stand on your front porch or driveway, or perhaps the entryway to your apartment block? What if it was coming from the left hand side? Or the rear? What would you do?
This exact scenario has happened to my dear friends TWICE this year already, on their 300-acre beef cattle property, about 2.5 hours from where I live [comfortably] on the coast.
I don’t know how they do it. In the 2002 bushfires, a fireball landed on the place, and they lost everything. Everything. Animals, sheds, machinery, trucks and tractors, fencing, and their home. Completely vanished in an inferno they could do nothing to stop, as they weren’t there.
17 years later, they were at home, and fought the blaze.
‘Fought’ is the correct term too. All night long, they doused with water, directed hoses, ran pumps (only solar and generator electricity available), and finished up emptying buckets by hand as the power failed.
They’re living legends as far as I’m concerned.
So I drove out a few days ago to help with the beginning of the massive cleanup; the country is in drought, so rivers and creeks are nearly empty, cattle are thin from the sparse feed, and the landscape feels parched.
Now it’s black.
My first shock on the drive out was crossing the massive river… a third of its width now. And the trees: burnt to cinders, and simply keeling over. Sure, some of the big ones will survive, but a lot of native vegetation is gone.
Then crossing the creek which runs through my friends’ farm, and taking my 2nd favourite photo of the whole terrible trip:
Usually, you drive through the farm gate, across undulating green grass, then up gentle slopes to the outbuildings and yard…
All I could smell was smoke and burnt timber. The ground was crispy as I walked, with occasional pops and crashes of dead branches.
It looked like another planet.
I pulled up beside other cars- various friends come to offer support and physical labour- and we began to dismantle the destroyed stables, trying to save as much roof tin to reuse as possible. The black smudged faces greeted me as a fellow worker, and the action helped me integrate the shock of what I was seeing.
And it wasn’t even my home. I hadn’t made the trek out there for years…
No filter on these photos folks- just snapped on my smartphone. And so much silence- no birds, no bees, no buzz of insects.
Until we heard the sound of a loaded truck crawling up the driveway- who was that, and what did they want? What they brought made us cry- Part Two tomorrow.
In gratitude for water, G xO