A State Memorial for those impacted by the recent bushfires will take place on Sunday 23 February 2020 at the Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park. Those attending are asked to arrive from 10:30am and to be seated by 11:20am.
The event is an opportunity to bring together members of the public from across NSW to recognise the lives lost, the sacrifices made and to show support for the families and communities impacted by the fires.
All relatives, friends, representatives of involved organisations and members of the public are welcome to attend the State Memorial.
Bushfire smoke is dangerous. It’s full of tiny suspended fine particulate matter, measuring only 2.5 micrometres (written as PM2.5). To get an idea of how small that is, a micrometre is 1000 times smaller than a millimetre. Particles that size easily get into your lungs and cause inflammation, resulting in symptoms like itchiness, coughing, watery eyes and sneezing. They get into your bloodstream and affect your respiratory, cardiovascular and immune systems and change your body’s chemical functions.
Also present in bushfire smoke are toxic contaminants like carbon monoxide, respiratory irritants (particles, formaldehyde, acrolein) and volatile organic compounds (like benzene).
That’s concerning when it’s just for a few days a year, but now that many firefighters have already clocked up over 100 days and the summer’s not yet over, there’s a debate about whether enough is being done to protect them.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his firefighting brigade colleagues have spoken to Sky News host Peta Credlin of the “immense” challenges they have faced during this season’s devastating bushfire season.
Serving as a volunteer for the NSW Rural Fire Service for 20 years, Mr Abbott and his fellow firefighters have opened up about the enormous toll the fire season has taken and how communities have rallied together to support each other during the last few catastrophic months.
When my grandmother’s older sister (Mrs Coleman) first came to Mallacoota (ahead of the arrival of my grandparents), she said there was a small band of aborigines, who moved about, burning wherever they went. However, they went with drovers taking cattle from the Bega area to Port Albert for shipping to Tasmania. They never returned.
However, fire was a constant in the bush. Everyone learned to live with it. They had to, as there were no bulldozers, water tankers, aircraft, 4WDs with teams of fire fighters, computer modelling, fire planning, CFA etc.
Bush dwellers of the time had a completely different understanding of the necessity of regular fire in the environment and its acceptance, than that of the majority of people today. Smoke was something we learned to live with. In good weather, particularly the autumn, smoke would lag in the valleys and on the lakes and low lying areas, sometimes making it difficult to navigate on the water.
With the government preferring or directing that burning not take place until after the Easter holidays, some of the best autumn burning conditions are missed. The opportunity to fuel reduce even small areas has contributed to the mess we now have.
Hardly anyone is talking about these numbers yet they show just how far beyond our control the pyroconvective firestorms are and why we need to be so much smarter at preventing them. They also show how irrelevant temperatures onsite are, compared to fuel load and wind speed.
Since the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires, only a third of the area earmarked for hazard reduction burns has been cleared and former CSIRO bushfire expert Phil Cheney says there have been “excuses… and Pseudo-science to justify this”.
The photos in this post were taken from a privately owned block which ranges between 1550m – 1850m in altitude. It is the highest freehold block in Australia and is owned by Barry Aitchison, former Fire Control Officer of Snowy River / Monaro Team for 32 years who is a passionate advocate for the high country.
This block is a particularly good example as it is not only owned and managed by someone with a lifetime of both fire and grazing experience, but it contains several test plots which were initiated as part of the High Fire Project in 2006.
The numbered photos in this post tell a story that is worth sharing.
Vic Jurskis wrote a document that was published on this web site 21st January 2019.
Greg Mullins’ dad told him about 1939 when “the sky seemed to be on fire every night”. John Mulligan lived through the Black Friday fires that burnt two million hectares of Victoria and killed 71 people. There were hundreds of fires in East Gippsland at that same time, but no major problems because the bush was kept clean by burning and grazing. John’s family weren’t worried, even when his uncle’s car repeatedly stopped because of vapour locks in the fuel lines with the extreme heat. John has formed the East Gippsland Wildfire Taskforce to try and restore sanity. If we get fires under the same weather conditions today, they’ll destroy everything from Bairnsdale to Sydney.
And now, 12 months later we are see burnt country that extends from Bairnsdale to Sydney with only a few unburnt areas remaining.
The term unprecedented has been applied to almost every aspect of the fire season across the entire nation.
It has been shocking, tragic and devastating – and it is not over. But the terrible truth is that we have seen such trauma again and again, from Black Saturday in 2009 to Ash Wednesday in 1983, from Black Tuesday in 1967 to Black Friday in 1939, and further back to Black Thursday in 1851. Millions of hectares burned, thousands of properties destroyed, dozens of lives lost.
We have had disasters where more properties have been lost, more area has burned and six times as many people have been killed. We have been told the fires started earlier than ever but spring and early summer is the usual fire season in northern NSW and Queensland, and, for example, we know there were widespread fires in southeast Queensland in the winter of 1946.
Claims by climate scientist Joelle Gergis that rainforests in Lamington National Park were burning for the first time were disproved by reports from the spring of 1951 about fire taking out “2000 acres of thick rainforest country” in the park.