Victorian Bush Fire Diary: February 19th – DAY THIRTEEN

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This instalment of my 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.

Bush Fire Diary: Thursday, February 19th, 2009 – DAY 13

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 door to my right? Or at my feet? What will I trip over between the bed and the toilet?), and if I’m lucky I have thought ahead and have a headlamp (a prized piece of travel gear) at my side, since surely finding a light switch will be impossible.

I remember I’m out of the frenzy of fire, on an overnight respite in Melbourne.

It is a different world in Melbourne, on the best of days. The differences are all the more glaring when rural bush fires are introduced. The majority of the people we chat with in Melbourne are not even aware that the fires are still burning. “Oh, is that fire stuff still happening?” is a common line we hear throughout the day, making us cringe each time. Yikes.

The fire consumes us, literally and figuratively. How these people can be blissfully unaware of the continuously burning fires, some of which are only an hour away and on two sides of the city, is unknown to me. But then again, maybe it isn’t so foreign; once the media loses hold of a story (as it has done), so too does the public.

Bush fire diary: plumes of smoke outside of Melbourne, we are driving back into that.
We are driving back into that. That’s “home”.

After a day of running around in Melbourne, we head back “up the hill” to Alexandra. On the way, we pass some very large plumes of smoke that give us shudders, reminding us gently that fire can flare up and that the battle is far from over. We agree that we must be crazy for driving back INTO the fire zones to return home, when most traffic is going the opposite way.

Returning to town is a stark reminder of the dark and smoky world that is – and will continue to be – Alexandra and the nearby towns. The pit in my stomach and growing nausea during the two hour drive home is proof.

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2 thoughts on “Victorian Bush Fire Diary: February 19th – DAY THIRTEEN”

  1. Hi Nora,
    Thank you for your excellent blogging during this very difficult time. To say I have enjoyed the posts would give the wrong meaning to enjoyed BUT I really appreciate your candor and openness about the whole situation.

    I really hope you get back to your own house soon and can relax for a few days. Sorry you are so stressed and under the pump.

    Hopefully we will get rain and some good soaking soon and the area will start to transform. We saw this happen along the Great Ocean Road in the 80’s and it was great.

    We are acutely aware of fire and have not assumed they have stopped. Just think of yesterdays text messages. Take care
    Frank

    Reply
  2. Hi Frank,
    You are absolutely right about being acutely aware of the fires, as far away as Melbourne. This is the trouble with publishing a diary after the fact in such an ever-changing situation; things change! On February 19th, the media hype had died off, as had most of the smoke in Melbourne. Many people (understandably) figured that the fires were at least under control, if not out.

    For other readers who might be curious about the text messages, yesterday the Victorian police sent out SMS messages to all mobile phones in the state, warning of forecasted extreme weather and high winds. It was an unprecedented event, and one that has come up against some interesting criticisms and acclaims alike.

    The battle wages on…

    Reply

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