Tuesday, 7 February 2012

3 years on, we will never forget

I wrote the below 3 years ago after watching our state burn. 

I've just returned from Echuca, which for those international friends who don't know, is approx 2.5 hours north of Melbourne on the Murray River, the great river that divides Victoria and NSW.

I went there on Friday to watch The Southern 80 Ski Race, the biggest race in the southern hemisphere and a huge party weekend that is a heap of fun.. and this year, some mates and I thought we would camp on the river for a different persepctive as we usually stay in town.

When we arrived on Friday evening, it was 47 degrees at our camp site, that's hot, I don't care who you are, that is fuckin hot.
Luckily for us, we had the mighty murray to keep us cool, along with many beverages, tents, shady trees etc..

What happened next is still doing my head in.

We knew it would be hot on Saturday.. but we certainly were not prepared for just how disgustingly hot it got.
Putrid Northerly winds blew in on us at 100kph as we took refuge in the river before heading to another part of the river for a qualifying session of the ski race, and it was there that we realised we were becoming part of history.
The wind felt like fire against our skin as we stood in the shade watching boats and skiiers blast down the by, the kind of heat you feel when you stand in front of an open fire for just little too long, it felt like this wind could strip the skin off your body.

We headed back to our camp site and the thermometer in the Toyota Prado showed 49 degrees. And we did not doubt it.
Just before we reached out camp site, the small green LCD numbers flicked and showed something I never thought I would see.


50 fuckin degrees. Iin Victoria. Surely it can't be good.

We had set up another thermo at our camp site, in the shade, and it too read 50 when we arrived. Later, we had a phone call from other friends telling us that 52 had ben reached further up the river.

As I said, we had the river, and many bevvies to keep us cool. Yes I am burnt, but not badly.

And then we heard the news of the fires that were devastating our majestic "Garden State".
And each time a new report came on, the worse things got.

Today, as a result of these fires, the Ski Race was cancelled, because the paramedics who were on hand, were all called away to the fires, no paramedics means no race, hardly a big deal given the circumstances.

So we packed up our camp site, and headed on our way, listening intently to the ABC, getting horrifying statistics, and with each stat, our car would fall silent, followed by sighs of pure disbelief.

Once again, deliberately lit fires are decimating our country side, but more iportantly, destroying homes, and most heartbreaking, taking lives.

As many would know, Victora has been in a state of drought for over 10 years.. we've seen lakes dry up, farmers get pushed to the edge with sad consequences, water restrictions come in as a permanent fixture in our lives.. and they say global warming doesn't exist?

Melbourne has long suffered torment from the northern states about how much rain it gets.. well, I'm here to tell you, we don't get jack shit in comparrison.

Over the past few years we have seen hotter and hotter summers and I have watched and been thankful as each summer has pased, that the bushfires had been relatively 'under control', but we were all waiting for this.. we were all waiting for the day when we would se the top blow off this monster.

This weekend it happened.

We found the limit of what our country can take.

The mercury bubbled, the winds came through, and whilst 3/4 of Queensland "The Sunshine State" is under water from flooding, Victoria is burning down and suffering the hottest temps ever on record.

I still remember Ash Wednesday, the last time we really felt the true force of what mother nature can do with fire, and now, you will remember this weekend for the very same sad reasons.

It just does my head in. Where wll it end?

My fear now, is that this coming winter will be somewhat catastrophic for us Victorians.
Sure we need the rain to fill our reserves, but lets hope we can do over a few months, rather than a few days.

My heart goes out to those families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice this weekend and also praise and respect to the fireys who fight these monsters.

Swift justice to those fuckers who lit these fires, don't come bragging to me, it wouldnt be healthy.3

1 comment:

  1. Reading about it still hits hard. Feels like it was just yesterday. I can't imagine being around for anything worse. I don't know anyone who was 'directly' affected in terms of the media, but we were all affected one way or another. It's hard to decide what was the worst part. The extreme heat? The fact that our country.. our state.. OUR HOME was burning? The lives it both destroyed and took? Or the fact that it was deliberate. I still can't get my head around why anyone would ever do something like this.

    -Maxwell Smart