I was house, dog & property sitting a life style block close to a village called Gembrook, which is just down the road from Emerald & reasonably close to Fern Tree Gully !
I know, doesn't it sound like a fairy story & without a word of a lie, it is like living in a fairy story, only the story is filled to the brim with the animals, birds, trees & the extremes of nature particular to Australia.
and by god it is beautiful !
The weather was completely unpredictable with a temperature range which included overnight lows, yes pleural, of 4˚C to daytime highs of 39˚C.
There were many beautiful days & evenings of 'mid range' temps which were calm & still.
There were mornings with mist so thick the rest of the world was completely excluded.
There were a few days of rain, but without an accompanying bone freezing wind.
& . . . there were bush fires ! No shit, the closest 3! were just down the road, a mere 3 kilometres away !
but if anyone can cope with bush fires by crikey the Aussies can ! Seriously tho, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) are a pretty astounding lot ! I realised of all the dangers that exist in Australia the bush fire is absolutely hands down THE one to be frightened of & the best way to increase your likelihood of survival is to leave.
Yep, vacate the area coz if the wind changes & you're in the wrong place you simply will not survive.
Australian forests burn easily, the fire is fast & hot.
The days preceding the fires & the day of, were extremely windy, hot as hell, humidity was zero, the birds, which are normally abundant, were absent, the air was heavy with the smell of eucalypts & it was tense.
Not long after the power went off I poked my nose outside & could smell smoke but the wind was so strong it could have been coming from kilometres away, turned out it probably was.
I'm not really sure how long later, I must admit I was completely focussed on my knitting & oblivious to the everything else, through a series of messages from my brother I realised that in actual fact the bush fires were just down the road, he gave me the website I should've known about earlier & asked did I want to leave the property !!!
I went for a walk, checked the animals, who all seemed unperturbed & grazing peacefully, noticed the birds had come back & while I was walking the wind changed direction & the temperature dropped 19˚C.
I kid you not. All of a sudden it was cold.
I checked the weather forecast & with the wind change the humidity had increased to 68% & was rising.
I'm pretty sure that these sudden but fortuitous changes are what allow the fire service to gain control over the fires & within a few hours the status alerts became less urgent.
Just as it got dark the electricity came back on, there was a collective sigh & once more all was calm in our little world again.
My last few days at Chestnut Springs were wonderfully full but beautifully calm.
If I ever decide to go back to live in Australia . . . you know where I'll be.
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