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“Don’t send clothes”- The aftermath of an Australian bushfire Part 1

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience
Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

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.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

They rebuilt #resilience #Australia #bushfires #gratitude

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:

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

Oh the irony of the flood marker #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss 

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.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

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

 

17 Comments

  1. I read the headline with trepidation and had to check that it wasn’t YOUR place. I can’t believe how early bush fires are starting in the eastern states! It is still lush and green around my part of the world, and having just come back from The Otways in Victoria (temperate rainforest, waterfalls galore), it’s even harder to believe. Horrible photos and the creekline one is so telling. I really hope fortune turns for your friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Eve- yes, my only danger here is flooding, as we all know, but right now we haven’t had decent rains for months… poor country Australia 😦
      Thank you for your good wishes- in my next post I will be linking to a donation page, so feel free to put in $20! It will help rebuild kilometres of fencing etc xx

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  2. The devastation of a bush fire is unimaginable if you’ve never experienced it. Lived through one when I was 9. No country bushfire brigades then, just a whole heap of Dads with anything they could lay their hands on and some metro firies helped. The loss of wildlife was phenomenal. When you described the quiet with the crunch underfoot and the falling branches I was transported back to 1972. For months, the smell of rotting animals was awful and the burnt roos, birds and skinks were heartbreaking. I was in high school before I could bring myself to light a match, the fear stayed. I’m hoping the insurance companies have a conscience and do the right thing for your friends and the others who have lost so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy shit, I’m sorry to hear your experience- seems like it really stuck with you. My friends are in the Rural Fire Service, so could defend their home in their suits etc, but still both ended up with respiratory damage and overnights in hospital. They had to bury roos too. The insurance company guy seems to be a good fellow, so they were very hopeful of getting a good assistance package, plus people are donating etc (more to come on that in my next post). Thank you so much for commenting, take care ❤ G

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Terrible photos, much needed article. I’m in Victoria and we’re still green here, but I’m already dreading Jan/Feb. If the Millenium drought ended in 2009/10, then where the heck did this one come from so soon? I guess that was a rhetorical. -sigh-

    Liked by 1 person

    • Today has just been declared a Total Fire Ban day again up here- so hot and dry- even tall trees are showing drought stress now, and I live in the tropical North as you know- never thought I’d see such drought here 😦

      Like

      • Insane, just insane. And yet we’re still doing nothing about climate change.

        I don’t know which is the most dangerous wind up your way, but I assume it’s the one coming out of the Centre? If you don’t have a proper bunker or roof sprinklers etc, please get out every time one of those winds is forecast. Hot and dry is one thing, hot, dry AND a strong wind is bad news.
        Seems we’re all in a brand new ball game these days and no one knows just how bad things may get. -hugs-

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes maybe. I’m getting pretty scared about everything weather-related to be honest, as it’s all seeming to go up a notch in drama every 12 months. So much challenge, for so many people, everywhere 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember as a kid being on a fire line with a wet hessian sack (the kind potatoes used to come in) trying to keep tiny flames in a back-burn area from flaring up. Horrible, terrifying memory flashes there.
    Hope your friends are … god, ‘doing OK’ sounds so banal, doesn’t it? … but none-the-less, I hope they are.
    Looks like the Mother is getting her Kali on around the globe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, that sounds like a bit of a terrifying experience indeed- such pressure for a little kid.

      Yes, thank you, my friends are remarkably resilient, tough bush chicks (although one is also a writer & culture vulture like me), but also surrounded by a tight-knit community… they will indeed be Ok. Mama Earth though, I’m sadly not so sure these days 😰

      Liked by 1 person

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