Australia is flammable

Wyperfeld shade

Wyperfeld shade

One of the nice things about eucalyptus trees is they are full of wonderful smelling eucalyptus oil. This has a lot of uses – we use it to disinfect things, we put drops of it in hot water and breathe in the steam when we have colds, we made sweets from it (I used to love eucalyptus drops back when I did eat sugary stuff) – but the one thing it’s really good for it, it is flammable and it burns.  Which is NOT a nice thing.

Australia is full of forests that, once dry, go up and are generally unstoppable and uncontrollable. There is a lot of bush to burn and it really does. Every summer we get a bunch of criminals who go around and light fires, or they are started by lightening. The worst one we’ve had lately was this horrifying day known as black saturday – so hot that the oils in the trees was evaporating and that was catching fire – and exploding the trees, causing a firestorm. Entire communities and towns were wiped out.

Thousands and thousands of kms of bushland get burnt out every year and people die an lose their houses and stock. It’s one of the things about living in ‘the bush’ that you need to be aware of – have a fire plan. Which may involve running, or staying and defending (ie putting out your house when it’s on fire).  The bush has actually evolved to cope with fire for various reasons and recovers relatively readily – some types of our forest actually require fire for regeneration and so do ok after a fire eventually (not so the animals and the people and the towns destroyed however). Trees have buds under the bark that will sprout new branches and leaves if the tree loses it’s leaves to fire. A fire can sometimes strip an entire forest of leaves – it will be full of blackened trunks that suddenly sprout bright green leaves. You can see where the fires have been through on older trees too – the bark often stays black forever.  And the under story will often bloom and grow back readily –  presuming there is rain (which is why summer fires are so destructive).

We have been in a really awful heatwave here. Today is the first day in four days where it’s not projected to get to around 44 degrees Celsius. It’s been unimaginably hot over the last four days, the night temperature has not gone down by that much.  It’s been, frankly, awful to live through. A

Unfortunately now much of Victoria is on fire.   One of the places that is on fire is Wyperfeld national park, which has not had a fire through it in a long time.

This is a recent painting I’ve completed of Wyperfeld… All that dry grass will go up fast. So sad. Hopefully it recovers ok, as the bush is want to do. :/