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.