Intense

The power pole that burnt for five days. St Andrews 2009
The power pole that burnt for five days. St Andrews 2009

There are many things I could say about intensity, having lived through the largest and most intense firestorm ever experienced in Australia’s post-European history. The intense raw emotion and feelings of loss, of home, environment, and neighbours, the intense sensitivity expressed as an overwhelming paranoia and anger to protect ‘our’ burnt bush from invaders with cameras, the intense love for this land, this lovely bush that has not yet recovered.

1980-01-01 00.00.05-7

I have unearthed these photos of the bush, taken shortly after the Black Saturday bushfires here of 2009, in St Andrews, Victoria.  The photos were taken around our paddocks and in the neighbouring National Park.

This time my pictorial story looks at the Australian bush after a fire where the ground burned for days, where old fern covered creek beds and tracks from the gold diggings of the 1850s became exposed and denuded, and where a false Autumn was staged by burnt umber gum leaves, highlighting the predominant colour, black.

St Andrews, February 2009
St Andrews, February 2009
Burning ground, St Andrews, 2009
Burning ground, St Andrews, 20o9
Black Calf Creek,, St Andrews 2009
Black Calf Creek,, bordering our property, St Andrews 2009
St Andrews, February 2009
St Andrews, February 2009
St Andrews , bordering the Kinglake National Park, February 2009
St Andrews , bordering the Kinglake National Park, February 2009

More of my bushfire stories can be found here.

33 thoughts on “Intense”

  1. My gosh, I literally cannot imagine experiencing this. Despite being Sydney born and bred and growing up on the edges of National Park which goes up in flames each year, I have never had it endanger my life or property. I hope this summer is a calm one.

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    1. Yes, I struggle with it too, and have never watched the TV footage. I just can’t. But these photos popped up when I reverted to my old PC computer- they stared me in the face and they said- look at me and deal with it, so I did. It is still pretty fresh for me.
      No, Jess, not this or any more summers. But we do know that it will happen again one day.

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      1. I really admire your bravery Francesca, that’s so strong of you… I think if I’m honest, I haven’t really dealt with it yet.. now that we’ve moved away from that area it might be a bit easier.. always in our hearts and minds though

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  2. The beauty of such cruelty. I hope we and everyone else never have to witness and endure such devastation, injury, loss of life and emotional scarring again. Luckily we weren’t directly impacted by the fire (apart from the fact our son’s 21st was on black sat and no one could get to it!) but have many family and friends in Gippsland who have struggled to reclaim their lives and homes since. A timely reminder of what summer can bring.

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    1. Very harsh indeed. I thought this time I would show the trees and bush, and how nature itself suffers. We have watched all sorts of off species take over- black wattles and burgen- species that may die back in time to let a more balanced bush re-appear.

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    1. I also need to remind myself that it’s time to get organised now. I have lived through a month of close bushfire events in October before ( 2006) . Leaf litter to remove, dead wood to prune, all those little fire traps around the place.

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  3. I know smaller disasters befall people every day, and for them the experience is intense. But as the warmer and wilder weather comes round, I think “not ever again please be kind” because although I’ve fortunately never been affected the losses of those who have saddens me terribly.

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  4. I don’t know what it was like for you – but I certainly empathize. Being an ex fire fighter I truly understand the devastation fire creates. And as a survivor of a natural disaster I also understand feelings of powerlessness, insignificance and re-traumatization. My thoughts are with you.

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  5. I’m never sure whether to select the ‘like’ button on things like this or not. It feels wrong, though I know it lets the person know you appreciated their post. I think of you often when there is a fire in Victoria. I can’t imagine living in a place with such a continuing threat. You write so often as if you have ‘recovered’ but I know these things are often wrapped up and put to the side until when/if we are able to process them. I’ll just tell you, I appreciated your post, very much. xxx

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    1. You are so understanding Ardys. don’t think I will ever ‘unwrap’ that event, the scars are pretty deep and the adrenalin close to the surface. My little apres fire posts help me, but I also hope they serve to help someone else too. xx

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