I was recently contacted by a high school teacher in Western Australia, who said her year nine class was doing a project on the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, and having found my own diary entries on the ordeal, asked if I would be kind enough to read and respond to their reflections, as somebody who was […]
Victorian bush fires
I was living in Australia when the Victorian Bush fires - Australia's worst-ever natural disaster to date - obliterated a large chunk of Victoria. I was pretty much caught in the middle of it all. Although I didn't personally see the 1,000 foot high wall of fire, I evacuated where I was living and out-ran the smoke and fire by a hair. For the next few days I was safe, but literally surrounded by fires, with no chance to get out even if I wanted to.
For the next three weeks I was evacuated from my home, sleeping where and when I could, while helping the hundreds of fire survivors who had been bereft of everything (except their lives).
My Victorian Bush fires Diary became a piece of "Australian history" and is archived in the National Library of Australia.
After being home for a few days in the wake of a month-long evacuation due to the Victorian bush fires, we hear/smell/feel/see something that makes our hearts sing: rain. It pours overnight, and drizzles through the next few days. Although naysayers worry about erosion and the negative long-term restorative effects of too much rain, we […]
Home, Sweet Home Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – DAY EIGHTEEN Home, Sweet Home After an extremely hesitant but positive response from a local authority that we could return home but must remain vigilant about the fires that are almost too close for comfort, we return home.
Enjoying the ocean, and a different kind of fire… Friday-Sunday, February 20-22, 2009 – DAYS FOURTEEN to SIXTEEN Too many “last straws” have come and gone…we need a rest. My own small break in taking a trip to Melbourne was not exactly restful, and Kelly has worked two full weeks in a highly-charged environment with […]
Thursday, February 19th, 2009 – DAY THIRTEEN It seems like every night I sleep somewhere else. I wake up in the middle of the night – as I do, to pee – and have to re-orient myself before trying to get up. I struggle to remember where I am, how I am oriented (is the […]
Although this image of charred ground may not look dramatic, you may think differently if you knew what it looked like before. Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 – DAY TWELVE The pleasant distractions of last night end when I cough and sputter my way into reality from a solid sleep; the smoke is thick and full. […]
In addition to the hundreds of pumper trucks coming in and out of the Alexandra staging area, armoured personnel carriers are now part of the flotilla. These guys are serious. Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 – DAY ELEVEN Apparently we are not the only ones living out of our car…we pile our belongings into the car […]
There are over 400 tents pitched at the showgrounds, with over 600 emergency workers sleeping in shifts. (And this is not the only base camp established in the area). That’s allotta fire fighting going on. Monday, February 16th: DAY TEN As we pull up to the DSE/CFA base camp in Alexandra for breakfast, I see […]
A panorama of our smoky “stomping grounds” in Rubicon… Sunday, February 15th, 2009 – DAY NINE 8:00am Waking up in and living with smoke takes a toll over time. Your head constantly feels foggy, keeping headaches tenuously at bay. Your throat is raspy, sore, and dry, except for that little chunk of mucus in the […]
Saturday, February 14th, 2009 – DAY EIGHT Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air….or is that smoke? The situation at the relief donations warehouse is out of control. We receive countless truckloads of generous donations, and despite requests to the contrary, lots of it is still used. Gently used clothing is one thing; bleach […]
One of the warehouses, filled and getting fuller with each truckload of donated goods… Friday, February 13th, 2009 – DAY SEVEN Dreaded Friday the 13th. Not only are there superstitious connotations to this ominous day, but it also marks the 70-year anniversary of the 1939 bush fires that devastated this very area. In fact, it […]
Thursday, February 12th, 2009 – DAY SIX 12:20am We have accepted the generous hospitality of some friends who happen to have two dogs and a cat. Although the animals spend very little time in the house, I go to bed to an awful allergy-induced asthma attack. And where is my inhaler? At the home we […]
One of the many trucks of donations being unloaded at the warehouse for sorting and distribution to those affected by the bush fires. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 – DAY FIVE 7:00am We are heading back to the show grounds for another real meal to start off our busy day at the […]
Kelly sporting a pair of pants donated for bush fire relief…exactly who will benefit from them remains to be seen! Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 – DAY FOUR 7:10am I sleep like a log on the floor of a back room at the local pub in Alexandra. It is amazing how we […]
An exhausted SES (Special Emergency Services) volunteer tries to call home. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Monday, February 9th, 2009 – DAY THREE 8:25am We sleep solidly, despite lightning in the area (a big risk for additional fires). I snap awake with a start, with very little transition between my peaceful dreams and the stark reality […]
Looking directly at the sun is no problem with the smoke as thick as it is. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Sunday, February 10th, 2009 7:00am We receive a text message from Melbourne that they are getting heavy rains. They sadly have not come yet here in Mansfield or any other affected area. Taggerty held off […]
The Victorian Bush Fire Diary commences: It’s so hot today, even the candelabra has melted. Saturday, February 7th, 2009 We are prepared for a forecasted day of dense sweltering heat. Temperatures in excess of 48 degrees are on tap. Although I love the heat, I am also keenly aware that with forecasted winds of 100 […]