Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A sombre Oz trip

We're due to arrive in Sydney on Monday to spend about two weeks in Oz, catching up with friends and family.

That part will be good but I'm expecting a much more sombre time than when we planned the trip a few weeks ago.

The death toll in the Victorian bushfire disaster is now at 173 with still many areas not entered yet by the emergency services and over twenty fires still blazing out of control. Police are saying they fear the death toll could rise to around three hundred.

I'm staggered and horrified, I find it hard to believe. Not the destruction of property because property is often lost in our bushfires, so sadly are tens of thousands of animals. Given the extended drought we've been going through for years the scale of the fires and therefore the property loss is not a surprise to me. The bush was ready to explode.

What I find hard to get my head around is the number of deaths.

I'm sure there will be an enquiry, probably a Royal Commission I expect, to investigate how so many people could have died.

The Age newspaper in Melbourne has a big library of video, audio and photographs of the disaster in addition to all the stories and a couple of photographs which stood out to me.

This one gives an indication of what the people were going through.

It was obviously zero visibility because of the smoke, you can see that the trees were burning, people were trying to get away in their cars. As is being reported from several areas, a tree was blocking the road.

That stopped four vehicles which are all burnt out. You can only pray the people survived.

The two nearest cars crashed but aren't burnt. They must have arrived after the firefront had gone through but presumably crashed because of the smoke.

The scene at the time doesn't bear thinking about.

Photo Angela Wylie The Age

And a cheerier photo. Somehow the koala survived, apparently unharmed and how he managed that I can't imagine.

Even with all the death and destruction around them, someone had thought of the animals and left food and water for any survivors.

Photo Tina McCarthy The Age

Our plan is to spend some time in Sydney, in our home town on the NSW Central Coast and then head north to Queensland's Sunshine Coast to meet up with family.

There are currently about fifty fires burning in NSW though, so we'll keep our plans flexible. It's about 1,000 kilometres with most of it through the countryside of course, so if there are still fires about I won't take the chance and we'll spend more time in Sydney instead.

If you're interested, The Age coverage is here.

By the way, as I'm looking at it it's showing the Melbourne temperature as only 18C while a couple of days ago it was 47C. That's much needed good news for everyone there.


hemlock said...

be safe.

Seabee said...

Thanks Hemlock.

I shan't be taking any chances.

WebJunky said...

THE perpetrators will pay and never be forgiven for this crime against humanity