Wow, what a crazy start to 2013. It seems just about everyone you speak to at the moment has a story relating to fire. Either bushfires that have recently threatened their own homes, businesses, or those of family and friends.
I live in a beautiful little corner of Tasmania, just outside of Hobart. We’re just 20 minutes down the road from Dunalley – the Tassie town that bore the brunt of the fires 2 weeks ago. This gorgeous little seaside hamlet lost more than 65 homes in an intense inferno that arose out of catastrophic conditions on January 4. Hobart recorded its highest temperature ever since record keeping began in 1883 – 41.8C.
We had our own unsettling night the evening Dunalley residents lost their town, as the fire raced towards our beachside community of Dodges Ferry. Our suburb was evacuated late Friday evening and I retreated with the kids to stay with relatives in Hobart. My husband, who is a firefighter, stayed to watch the house and to help out on the front line. Driving off in the care I left him with the strict instructions to “look after the garden!” I’m sure it was the last thing on his mind.
Lucky for us, a weather change shortly after midnight saw our suburb saved.
When we returned the following day the prognosis was still unclear and the entire area was eerily quite. We spent 2 or 3 days on alert and watching the water bombers over head. It was a little surreal to sit on the beach with the kids and the skies be filled with so much smoke and the sound of helicopter blades.
The people of Dunalley, and other towns like it around the country, are now faced with the exhausting task of rebuilding – of course not just their homes but their gardens and their communities as well. Despite losing everything, the spirit to rebuild is extraordinarily high and the community is very positive. Plans to ensure Dunalley School can open again in a couple of weeks are well under way, despite the gym being the only building still standing. In times of crisis it’s comforting to experience how the community pulls together.
Over this period my garden was abandoned for a few days – bigger fish to fry – and it was interesting to see what survived the extended hot period. I have planted quite a lot of new things over recent months and was expecting some to have turned up their noses at the conditions. It was relieving to see that when I finally got a chance to do an examination of the garden nearly everything had survived. Really just a couple of plants had some scorched leaves, but I didn’t lose a single plant! Having watered the garden the evening of the hottest day, perhaps this worked a treat?
I would be interested to hear your own tales with fire. And where do we start in supporting those who have to begin their garden again? Do you have any suggestions that we could use here in Tassie?