Canberra Bushfires – five years on

Posted by jerry on January 18th, 2008 — Posted in Journal

On 18 January each year since the 2003 bushfires that devastated Canberra, we photograph our garden as a measure of our garden’s recovery since the bushfires took it back to scorched earth. It is a time to reflect on our own lives and on what is important to us since confronting the fires head-on and realising that all that we had could have been snatched away in an afternoon. We were fortunate and escaped with minor damage to the house and no injuries. Our house was only three houses back from the main fire front as it crossed into Holder and Duffy. And even five years on the house next door still bears damage from that day.

One of the biggest challenges in establishing a garden from bare earth in Canberra has been the five-year drought that has left us with annual water restrictions. We recycle gray water from the washing machine and air conditioner and focus on a few plants at a time to establish them – and hope for the best.

Counsel Street 2008

We learned a great deal about ourselves that day in 2003 – how we can depend on each other, how we stand up to a crisis, and how in the face of immediate threat we focus on our immediate needs and the range of our own effort – and that in a major disaster, those services we depend on in an emergency are quickly overwhelmed and we stand or fall by our own efforts and our wits.

Counsel Street 2008

We learned too about community and how in times of difficulty the local community works together. Those friendships formed in adversity remain solid five years on.

That tree pictured in the scorched image above is now our dining table – a lasting marker of a day that changed the lives of many Canberra residents – a day that helped us to appreciate what we have in life.

dining table

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Pingback by Canberra fires five years on « In a Minute Ago

[…] For readers who don’t know the story there was no warning on the day of the fires. We were going about daily lives in the morning, washing grocery shopping etc and fighting one of Australias worst fires in the afternoon. The emergency services were over run and people simply did not see any help at all. The fire became a fire storm with winds that cut through everything. Nearly 500 homes were lost and over 2500 gardens were burnt. Ours of course was one of them so every year we remember how lucky we were with taking a photograph and usually celebrating/remembering with our neighbours. For those who are interested I have some photos taken at the time housed on my site here and Jerry has published his view of the same event too. […]

Posted on January 18, 2008 at 7:55 am

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