This is our view from the top of our hill looking North East. The heat of the Summer Sun and lack of rain has changed the landscape dramatically over the last couple of weeks. The grass is long and there are fields of gold as far as the eye can see. The colours at Sunset are stunningly beautiful. I took this photo while on a walk at sunset last week with the words of Dorothea Mackellar ringing in my ears "I love a Sunburnt Country. A land of sweeping plains.....". *
However, this was the view this morning. The smell of smoke thick in the air and covering us like a blanket.
As you have probably seen on the news, Mother Nature unleashed her fury on our little Island State these last couple of days. Last Thursday we experienced the hottest day on record with temperatures soaring to 41.8 degrees. As fate would have it, the wind was ferocious that day which caused several Bushfires to rage out of control across the state.
Our property was very close to being threatened with a Bushfire in our local village of Richmond breaking out just down the road. This is the view from our hill shortly after the fire broke out.
I received a call from a friend who lives closer to Richmond saying she was coming over to our place as she could see smoke on the hill across the road from her. I looked out the window and could see a bit of smoke so jumped on the internet to get an update from the Fire Service. There was an "Advice" but no serious alert.
My friend arrived and it wasn't long before an Emergency Warning Advice was issued and all residents from Richmond were evacuated. We were OK to stay where we were for the time being but started getting things in place. These Bushfires are terrifying in their speed and unpredictability. You can see in the picture above how windy it was with the grass and smoke leaning a fair way over to the right. If the wind had changed direction at any moment we would have been in serious trouble.
This one spread so rapidly and we were surprised to receive an Emergency Warning by text message from The Tasmanian Fire Service the following day. There was a fair distance as well as a large body of water between us and the Fire but all we could do was keep an eye on the internet for updates.
We went up to the top of the hill and watched. The following 3 photos were taken at 7.30pm on Friday 4th of January 2013.
It wasn't until the following morning that we heard of the horror that had taken place overnight - thousands of people evacuated, over 100 homes and buildings destroyed and now the grim task of accounting for the missing. Totally devastating. The Fires, while mostly contained, are still burning and it can take some time for authorities to get in to affected areas to assess the loss and damage. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.
PS. Thank you so much for your e-mails and other messages of concern about our safety over the last few days. Really appreciate it.
* "My Country", Dorothea Mackellar 1908