Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Fires

What a year this month has been ...

Everywhere I turn people are saying "can we start again?" 

Indeed. To bring in the New Year on flames has not been ideal.

The first coastal fires started on the 27th November with my cousins and uncles fighting for their property lives for a good three weeks solid.  It didn't stop. Exhaustion reined. 

As if those fires weren't enough the bomb that really brought the East Coast to its knees exploded in the lead up to New Year's Eve.  Friends, family, neighbours were fighting a war while I sat in Canberra choking on the smoke struggling to comprehend what must be happening on our coastline.

I couldn't concentrate on anything other than what was happening at my soul haven. Where the bush meets the beach the landscape and the spirit was changing as I sat perched (somewhat) safely from the other side of the mountain. I spent my days with my head in my hands or pacing back and forth.

My extended family were in a war zone.  One day I'm checking the fire app for family, the next day I'm receiving photos from the many holidaymakers as they stood on their roofs watching the fire balls, then I'm praying for the animals and then again learning that fire was coming up to my cousins and uncles back doors.

Last weekend we felt it was safe enough to trek to the coast to hug our rels and contribute some much needed funds back into the economy that lost its peak trade.  The time of year essential to their business survival. 

Driving down the mountain was a shock.  The landscape is not what we remember it, but a baron version void of undergrowth and colour.  

I think the biggest shock was the lack of "thickness".  A bush that is normally covered with ferns, shrub, bushes, leaves now just housing brown and black "sticks" with bare ground and leafless trees.

As we opened our windows the most significant change hit us.  No bird sounds.  


Then we drove down our own street. The home of our little holiday house and marveled at just how close the fire had come.  Only 500 metres away.  The hill two streets away had its own new landscape of brown and black tree trunks. 

With every war there is an aftermath. A need to rebuild and a need to be there for the people that fought. We cannot underestimate the post traumatic stress these people are going to have.  The sound of a breaking twig, a smell brought on the breeze, extremely hot days and blustery winds will bring with them the inescapable memories of that time the fires hit.

Incredibly there is growth.  As we drove through the bush to my uncles house, a patch of green surrounded by charcoal, we marveled at the trees already starting to sprout new life.  The ferns with their huge black "bellies" sitting above the ground with not a feather, then suddenly you see the start of a new green frond.  

As with the growth of the foliage will be the growth of communities.  Thriving with the people, like me, who watched, paced and pondered from a distance unable to do anything but wait. Visitors returning to these communities in greater numbers than before, because after a disaster people come together from all over to help restore faith in our world.

It's easy to remember right now. For us coming over the mountain, it is current in our thoughts.  Let's not forget this in 6 months time.  We need to help them to rebuild for some time to come.

With every challenge there is an opportunity for growth.  We can all play a part in it.

There is always something to love about life.  I love that my family have their homes, their pets and their lives.  In time, they may even have a day an hour a minute where fire isn't on their mind. 



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  1. It's beyond awful. My sister has a house at Lake Conjola and says she, her husband and 2 youngest ran for the lake as it chased them down the street. They had to rescue people in the lake itself. Her house (across the road from the lake) was undamaged and because they were all trapped there became a refuge for people who weren't so lucky.

  2. So "glad" you got there..but with so many emotions running through you and all you love it must have been incredibly hard. Your connecting road (as were many) was not open. So much tension, worry, fear and actually scary events. None of us can take life or where we live for granted any more..if we ever did. These have been and will be changing times. I am so sorry for the devastation that we cannot forget as all our senses remind us. It doesn't not help of course, the fires started near Canberra too. Take care, stay safe and know many not directly affected are thinking of you all. Denyse . PS there is a quote from Jane Caro's neonatologist in her post Women of Courage which says it all really.....

  3. It's been horrific on many levels - the loss of human lives, the loss of homes and businesses, the shocking loss of wildlife, the trauma endured by those in the thick of it, the smoke and poor air quality in nearby cities, the worry of relatives and friends feeling helpless and so on. On the flipside we've seen how people come together during times like this, we can learn from this, there's signs as you've shown us of new growth and hope and personally ... I hope that we never endure fires as severe and enduring as this again. xo

  4. Oh, those terrible fires in your country! Sending prayers for you and god thoughts. I heard rain has finally come to help with the firefighting efforts. Those brave firefighters deserve our gratitude and praise!

  5. The vision on our tv news and radio reports all through this tragedy has been shocking for us to see on the other side of Australia. I didn't have anyone in the fire zone, but I still felt deep grief every night as we watched the news reports. I cannot comprehend what everyone has been through and how they are going to recover in body and soul. My heart goes out to them all, especially those who have lost loved ones. Sadly the news reports have reduced to a trickle. I am hoping that the fires are out, but when I "googled" the other day I read there are still fires burning. I pray they will end soon, and then the process of recovery and new growth can begin.

  6. What has been happening on the East Coast has been horrible. I find it amazing how the bush starts to regenerate so quickly.

  7. Sending you prayers and positive thoughts. I hope that fires end soon and that this horrific part of history ends soon.

  8. I can't even imagine what it's been like for people directly (and indirectly) impacted. Some of the scenes have just been horrific. Given the fires and some of the political stuff happening I've been really tempted to stay away from online news / social media as it kinda compounds anxiety we may already feel. Then I feel bad as I realise those involved can't simply turn away.

  9. So glad your holiday home was untouched.
    Nature does fight back with incredible force.
    Stay safe. X

  10. It's been traumatic enough just watching it on the news, I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for people who faced the fire first hand. The silver lining has been stories of lives and property saved and the incredible resilience of communities who have come together. The resilience has been amazing and it will be needed in the future rebuilding (emotionally and physically.) So pleased your holiday house and your family are all safe and well.

  11. It has been scary enough to watch from afar - I really can't imagine what those in the thick of it have been going through.

  12. It's been an awful start to the new year Leanne and I appreciate your thoughts. Our town and area has also been affected and everyone was evacuated for two weeks. We were away and struggled to comprehend the devastation. People here in Tumbarumba are still shell shocked and you're right it's now like the aftermath of war. The way you can now see through the bush is heartbreaking. #lifethisweek

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  15. Back here to say I am "glad" you linked up. I sure hope everyone who needs it can get some counselling...this fire season and all it did (and will continue to do) to people's mental health means some good sound help is required. It was/is a very anxious time.
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week #174. Next week's optional prompt is 6/51 Interesting 10.2.2020. Hope to see you again there too. Denyse.

  16. It's been an emotional time, that's for sure. I too hope that those who need it have access to services to not only rebuild, but to deal with what they have lost and the trauma associated with it.


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