Wednesday, 11 February 2009


These photographs, taken in Australia in late December last year, look across from Yering (near Yarra Glen), towards the Yarra Ranges. A few kilometres over the mountains to the left of the top picture is (or was) the township of Marysville which has since been largely destroyed by the Victorian bushfires. Behind the photographer farm land is gradually overtaken by the outlying suburbs of Melbourne. The photographs were taken on a hot day, probably in the mid-thirties, but in the last couple of weeks temperatures have been some ten degrees hotter. A dry forty degrees Celsius is not unusual for the Melbourne region and this, together with relative dryness, prevailing winds etc, can make the summer season potentially dangerous. Over the last century or so there have been perhaps five or six major bushfires, the most notable occurring in the 1890s, 1926, 1939, 1964 and the early 80s. I had collaged a piece from contemporary newspaper items and later accounts concerning the 1939 fires in my book The Ash Range. The sentence from one of my sources that comes to mind now is ‘For some days before the big fire actually occurred matches burned with a white flame’. When fire is ‘in the air’ it can seem as though the laws of nature have been overturned.

1 comment:

david lumsden said...

That Saturday when it was around 47 in most parts and a fierce north wind was blowing, before the really terrible news started rushing in, I noticed here in Melbourne that between clouds the sky which one would normally expect to be some shade of blue was actually an eerie grey; the air was bizarrely hot & the sky was bright but drained of its colour.