Friday, October 2, 2009

Fire, Snow and Rain.

On Sunday, after I posted about Greg and Fred, we went for a drive. Most of the photos in this post were taken from the front passenger seat of our moving car. As you will see from the photos it was wet most of the way.

We drove out through Healesville in the Yarra Valley up over the Black Spur.
The bush here was burnt in the fires following Black Saturday, 7th February 2009.
This first piccie shows the bush there; it is deceptively green. Unlike the fires on the 7th most of the fire up through this stretch was of low intensity. The tree trunks are blackened, but the crowns of the trees were not harmed and with the tree ferns sprouting in the understory it looks comparatively healthy.

Up over the Black Spur we turned off the Maroondah Highway and drove up towards Marysville. This second photo shows a stretch that was burnt on the Black Saturday. The crowns of the trees have been burnt bare and killed and the understory burnt away completely.
Virtually all these trees are Eucalyptus species (gum trees in daily usage) as Australian natives they are well adapted to fire and most of them are still alive, although badly damaged.
Marysville was one of the hardest hit places on Black Saturday, about one in five of the townspeople perished and the majority of buildings were destroyed. I didn’t take any photos there, it felt disrespectful.

Past Marysville we drove higher up past Lake Mountain towards Warburton in the Upper Yarra.
This photo shows how stark the landscape is up there now. The fires were truly intense, most of these trees are showing no sign of regeneration. To kill Eucalypts like this the fires were probably over 1000 degrees centigrade.
It was a bitterly cold day and in this higher country snow had been falling. Again most of the trees in these next few photos appear to have perished.
As we went father up the snow got deeper and the contrast between the blackened trees and the white of the snow is marked. The only green was from a few tree ferns that were just hanging on.

Then a sudden contrast we drove into a small pocket of bush that had avoided the worst of the fire. It’s not a great photo but it gives you an idea of what this bush would normally like at this time of year. Aussie bush is evergreen, so usually we have snow and leafy trees together.
Then back into burnt. This bush is burnt but with less ferocity. I think many of these trees will come back. I quite like these couple of photos, the black of the trunks, the white snow and the wet windscreen blurring it all together.
As you can see it began to lightly snow again.

Driving in snow is not something we have to do in most of the country.

Finally as we came back down the other side bush untouched by the fires. Also more rain. Glorious rain. Enough to cause some nuisance flooding and even lift Melbourne’s water supply by a few percent.


Wendy R said...

Heartlifting, Al, after Fred and after the fires. The pics make the point. My heart lifted at the evidence of survival, the green among the black. The frame of the car window allows us some distance from imagining too much the savagery of the fire. The wet screen pics are poignant.
I am still hoping Fred is OK.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Let's try this again. My first comment didn't make it. Lovely pictures, Al. The best part about Mother Earth is that these lovely forests will be all green and beautiful again in just a few years.

Brian, the old man said...

Great pictures. With time I hope all of the landscape will soon regenerate and be lush. From the looks of the last pic it truly looks like it was once a very beautiful area before the fire. I'm sure nature will heal itself, it just takes time.

heidenkind said...


Al said...

Hi Wendy, Christy and Brian,
The Aussie bush is amazingly tough and bounces back from fire. Usual fires do not even kill many native trees, what is different this time (as in 1983 and 1939) is how hot the fires were and how many trees have perished.
However having said that, even where the trees are killed their seeds survive. The first section of our trip, up the Black Spur, is covered by gorgeous Mountain Ash trees(a Eucalyptus species) all pretty much the same size and age. They germinated after the 1939 fires devastated that area too. Some species will not germinate unless there is wood ash dissolved in the rainwater that moistens them. If that isn't a Phoenix metaphor I don't know what is.

Hi Tasha,
I agree - Brrr. And it is supposed to be spring here, it is supposed to be getting warmer!

Lisa said...

Okay the trees here aren't black in the winter, but otherwise, those snow pictures look like Nebraska from November through March.

Al said...

Hi Lisa,
And our trees are mostly evergreen, so for us to see naked trees even in the snow means something is wrong.
Snow is not something you normally see in most of Oz. It only gets cold enough for snow in the high country here in our deep south, or in extra high country a bit further north. But 95% of the country never sees any snow.