An incredible fight by hundreds of brave firefighters, heavy machinery and water bombing aircraft and a lot of luck as regards wind gusts, has saved the beautiful and historical town of Toodyay, in Western Australia, from destruction by fire. It was very close. Fire fighters have reported ' that if the fire had jumped just one more road...'
A couple of nights ago, it was a night of vigil for many after a day of 42 degree heat,fire is sweeping through the wheat belt of Western Australia, threatening several areas including the beautiful town of Toodyay. I was unable to write about this, on that evening, it all seemed, too powerful, almost vulture like, to turn such horror for many, into a blog post.
This is my earlier blog post of the beautiful town of Toodyay, the central town itself having just survived a fire that has destroyed a wide area around it.
At the same time,as these fires, there is drought in New South Wales which has been broken by extensive flooding. This is Australia, her beauty and her terror. My prayers for those battling such dreadful extremes and the aftermath clean up. My special thoughts are with my best friends in Toodyay, Western Australia, where 38 homes were lost in the fire.
My friend in Toodyay, who lived through this horror, alone in a big house, with only her pets for company, no TV reception and the mobile phone battery flat for some of the time, could see the flames, which came within several hundred meters of the property which is the old Station Master's house, the fire was as close as the far side of the railway crossing. With the fire able to jump 10 kilometers ahead at some stage and start new fires with a strong gust of wind, it must have been terrifying. Across the other side of the country, myself and a few other good friends could only express, in typed messages through our facebook page and feel helpless to give comfort and were only reassured by knowing our mutual friend in Toodyay, was sensible and would be doing everything she could to ensure her own safety.
From our on line chat, I could tell, the following day, New years Eve, was still extremely hard, as I imagine the aftermath of such horror would be for anyone. While most of the country believed the danger was over, the fires, she told me, were in fact only 'contained' within an area, but still burning fiercely and presenting a risk and her neighbours had evacuated.
A town meeting, my friend attended, informed the residents of the shocking amount of loss of property and livestock, fortunately no human lives were lost. Also revealed, was how lucky the town had been. It was all 'too close'. it would only have taken a gust of wind and the town would have been destroyed, like the towns ofMarysville and Kinglake in Victoria. The rest of the afternoon was spend by many residents, comforting each other over their losses. I heard of someone who lost their property and all on it, while the home and contents was insured, the orchard valued at half million dollars, was not.
My heart goes out those who were affected by fires and the floods which in the last week, have claimed life and at the same time realize that the northern hemisphere is gripped in a chilling winter that has also claimed lives. Nature is beautiful and harsh. Never more than this New Year am I reminded of the words of the beautiful poem written a long time before there was any talk of 'global warming or climate change, 'My Country', by Dorothea Mackellar
Australian Rural-lit and historical fiction author and artist Ryn Shell
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