Sunday, November 15, 2015

After the bushfires - 14 November

 Looking across to the hills from near Lancefield - it's easy to see where the fires were now as the tree canopy dies and drops leaves.

 Most trees have now lost more than half of their leaves, but there is a fuzz of new bracken in patches here and there.

 This area probably has the most bracken right now.

 In other places it's just a few plants. In most areas it's still bare. The north side of the property is the only place where grass is growing well, and at the bottom of a couple of gullies. More rain would be good.

Very happy to see several of these on the south side - vanilla lilies!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

7 November

It doesn't matter how optimistic I try to be, when I go for a walk and all I see is this, it's hard.

 With no undergrowth, I've been finding small rubbish dumps from previous owners. Some relics go back more than 50 years.

 Yes, the bracken is fighting back.

 Heavy rain over the past week has washed a lot of ash and leaves into great heaps and lumps everywhere. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. We'll see.

 Today I saw a lot of this in different places. I think it's a form of fungus. The orange stuff is spongy and fungus-like.
Not sure if this is normal after a bush fire?

A large tree that has fallen in the past couple of weeks, burned out inside.

This is lovely to see - one of the microclimates of spongy grass and mossy underneath. It's at the base of a gully that funnels a lot of rain through, and when it's really wet, you can see the water running. This is the only area that survived the fire, and is now the first to come back and look really green. Most of the other gullies are also showing signs of green along their bottom areas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

31 October

 A roo comes close to the house but not game to venture as far as the remaining grass.

 Some animal desperate enough to eat the few fungi that have popped up through the ash.

 Bracken starting to emerge.

A couple of small areas have the beginnings of grass coming back.
Good rain this weekend so we'll see what effect it has.

25 October

 Burned out trees falling.

 Burned-dry leaves falling.

 Mat-rush trying to start a come-back.

Some trees burned to the bottom of their roots.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

17th October

 Nine days after the fire and everything is still burned and black, of course. Has there been rain? Maybe a little...

 Lots of dead and fire-singed and browned/dried leaves falling now. A bit like brown snow...

 Then in just a few spots, some small signs of life. Grass pushing up and some shoots from tussock grass.

 Two echidnas burrowing under burned logs for bugs to eat.

 Strangely, some fungi determined to put its head up.

A few kangaroos and a wallaby sighted. They don't at this point appear to be fire-injured. We've put out water and lucerne (lucerne on advice of wildlife rescue).

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The devastation of a bush fire

I started this blog on 21st October 2007, Blogger tells me. Over the past 8 years, I have enjoyed taking hundreds of photos of everything on our bush block, from spring flowers to echidnas and roos to insects and birds and trees and fungi. Now, the blog has suddenly attained a special significance for me. It's become a record of everything that was.

On 6th October, a large bush fire that burned 4000 hectares in the Lancefield-Benloch area in Victoria (Australia) also burned our block. It didn't just burn bits here and there, as fires can sometimes do. It burned all 40 hectares from south to north, from west to east. The only thing left is a small oasis in the north-eastern section where our house - miraculously - still stands. I guess this is probably due to several things: the way we built the house to be as fire-proof as possible, with no gardens and as little vegetation around as possible, plus we took down 14 trees two years ago; the hard work of the fire helicopter crews who we believe dumped at least one lot of water on us; miraculous good luck.

But the rest of it is, as our neighbour put it, "a moonscape". Piles of firewood away from the house are not even a pile of coals - they have completely disappeared. Many trees are blackened for 60-80% of their height. Other trees have been so thoroughly burned that there are holes where their roots used to be. No doubt many trees are burned on the inside and are now in danger of falling (quite a few have already). And every vestige of wildlife that I have seen is gone - frogs, insects, lizards, and who knows what else. Probably all the possums, numbats, owls, bats and echidnas. I have seen some roos and a wallaby but no signs yet of the wombats.

I'm devastated, but the landscape looks so unreal that it's barely sunk in yet. I feel like everything that I loved about the place is gone - everything that fascinated, excited, intrigued and interested me, let alone everything that gave me joy when I was there.

But I will continue this blog. Friends who know have assured me that regeneration will happen. I am not sure when, because the outlook for rain in the next few months is not good, and summer is coming. But I am trying to have faith that regeneration will come, that plants and animals and insects will return. Still, I wonder how and to what extent.

Until then, I will post some photos of what it was like (and you can go back through this blog for plenty more), and then some photos of what it is like today.


Monday, August 17, 2015

August and a bit of spring colour

 Moss is growing everywhere at the moment - on the big rocks and the little ones, on tree stumps and at the bases of trees, and along the tracks. Must have been enough rain to encourage it.
Acacias are also coming out in bloom - they start with the bobbly buds above and then ...

... we get these bright yellow bursts among the grey-green eucalypts!
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