Apart from a death in the family in December, never have I felt so far from home than in the days before and after that day, not to mention that day. Sadly, for many Victorians, there were many deaths in their families on that day, and the days that followed as bush fires ravaged the state.
here are a bazillion articles about what happened that day and the devastation it left behind. In brief – it was the worst bushfire disaster in Australia’s history (or in the western world since 1916 if death toll alone is the decisive factor). More than 400 fires burning throughout the state on day that reached 46.4 °C (115.5 °F).
My my memory of the emotions I felt hearing and seeing the news are with me as if they were yesterday. And that the Bunyip Ridge fire was right near (a little freaking too near if you ask me) my parents farm and burned out of control for more than a week. I remember being on the phone at 3.30am and they’d been on the roof, with hoses, filled the gutters with water, gathered the stock in. It certainly wasn’t a good bye call but there were tears, all around.
I later flew into Zurich for the weekend where my cousin and I spent much time glued to the tele (or Australian news websites hooked up to the tele) eager for new news and in disbelief at what we were seeing. When we woke on Sunday morning, 30 deaths were being reported (a number that was to rise to 173). After returning to London I spent the next few weeks glued to the CFA website until the fire near my parents was under control (and the one near the beach house which was a late bloomer). I remained scattered at work, my mind so so many miles away.
I’m so so grateful that we (my family and friends) escaped relatively unscathed. And that I wish this Sunday did not mark the 1 year anniversary of the death of 173 victims. And that they did not have to see constant reminders of it (there is no way to drive to the city from my parents place without travelling through blackened land with charred tree trunks and there would be far worse sites nearby).
I am glad this horrendous day is now nearly a year ago (although it still feels like yesterday) and the rebuilding for those who lost everything can continue.
Elvis the firebombing helicopter after filling from our dam, looking WNW