Australian Bush Fire Diary: February 15th – DAY NINE

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A panorama of our smoky “stomping grounds” in Rubicon…
This instalment of my Australian bush fire diary was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

You can read the dramatic Day One of the Victorian Bush Fire Diary here, and the entire collection of posts here.

Australian Bush Fire Diary: Sunday, February 15th, 2009 – DAY NINE


Waking up in and living with smoke takes a toll over time. Your head constantly feels foggy, and headaches are tenuously kept at bay. Your throat is raspy, sore, and dry, except for that little chunk of mucus in the back you just can’t seem to cough clear. You blow your nose to clear black mucus from your nostrils. And the constant aroma of smoke is far from pleasant. Having your senses overloaded with these stimuli every morning makes it difficult to wake up on the right side of the bed in a positive head space; it is a constant conscious battle.

My smoky back yard during the Australian bush fire diary


Eight days after evacuating our house, we return to it. Knowing it is fine before arriving makes it a relatively easy thing to do. Also knowing that the mountains at the back are on fire means no startling surprises.

Seeing the house has been an intense desire through most of the week, almost inexplicably so. Knowing that so many houses have been flattened by fire creates a need (however illogical) to make sure beyond all doubt that it is okay. There are also a few items (official documents and such) that preyed on our minds all week as a need to have in our possession and protection, and it is nice to put our hands on them.


The fire behind the house is burning slowly and is stable – even controlled – and between the house and the mountain/fire is a whole range of runway-esque control lines bulldozed into the land that would confuse even an air traffic controller. We collect a few of the things we need, do some fire-prevention cleaning up around the property, and bid adieu to it once again. We are confident that we will return to it in ship shape condition, once again….sometime.


An entire day and evening in Taggerty has been interesting…I am going with the idea that a change is as good as a rest on this one, since there was not much “rest” to be had today. The threat of fire is considerably higher and more constant. Staying at the house of a friend in the CFA (with other CFA friends coming in and out) has been an exercise in pagers going off and mad dashes made to cars many times in a day. Being able to see fire a few hills over (about 2kms away) is even less of a consolation.

But even so, those few moments spent, all of us together and enjoying some great company and light-hearted conversation – just like old times – is refreshing and comforting. Having an entire day away from the warehouse and able to process everything that has happened in the last week has been therapeutic. Time to reflect on the events of the last week-that-feels-like-a-month is very necessary; too many people are trying to go hard, working tirelessly on their causes (be it fighting fire, volunteering, or providing relief of some sort) and not leaving an inch for personal time or space. But living constantly with such high emotions around you, the constant lurking threat of fire, and not reserving any personal time is a recipe for disaster.

And so it is with personal time and a refreshed perspective that I go to bed, ready to face another week of amazing and satisfying work.

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4 thoughts on “Australian Bush Fire Diary: February 15th – DAY NINE”

  1. Dear Nora and Kelly,
    I wish you two safety and good health, and I am watching your latest “adventure” with rapt interest, from the comfort of my freezing cold winter in Toronto.
    All the best to you.

  2. Thank You, Jane, and Thank You Jennifer!

    @Jane: I can’t say I miss the cold winters, but I must admit that summer has taken on a new meaning too. I guess I’m now a devout spring and fall fan.

    @Jennifer: It is indeed hard to believe I’ve been traveling for a few years now! Gosh. I hope you are enjoying Maui….I miss Hawaii in many ways. Maybe we’ll meet one day on Maui’s soft sands!


  3. Nora & Kelly –
    I’ve been following your blog for several years now… hard to believe it’s been that long! When you embarked on your Hawaiian journey, I was just leaving Montana after too many years of having been smoked out by the forest fires in my back yard and evacuating the house each summer. I’ve had huge flashbacks reading about your experiences with the Australia fires, I could actually smell the smoke again. Good on you both for being there and supporting this community with every bit you can give. Your travels have been a real testament to community service…

    I ended up going Hawaiian-style too, and am now living on Maui, thoroughly enjoying the pace, lifestyle and climate. A bit of a nomad myself, it’s been a pleasure reading your posts when I’m in between adventures… though each and every day is an adventure in itself when we are tuned in properly.

    With much aloha,

  4. I’ll be following you from Australia starting January 1st for three months. Paula , (Vagablonde) and I will be traveling in my off weeks and should pass through your part of the world. I certainly don’t want to see Victoria for the reasons I visited after Black Saturday last season.
    Keep up the good writing, you have a gift to share.


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