Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bushfires in the Blue Mountains

Downloaded from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service website.

Well I'm writing this and meanwhile 20 minutes up the road it's burning like the photo above. There's a bushfire burning away in the Grose Valley, near Blackheath which has burnt out around 20,000 acres. I live a lot further down the mountain ranges so there's mainly a lot of haze and smoke around.

I had a friend of mine help me at a book stall I was running at the Mind Body Spirit festival (more about that later) and he stayed for a couple of extra days so I could show him around where I lived.

The Blue Mountains is a wonderful place to take visitors.

So we headed to one of my favourite haunts, the Victory Cafe at Blackheath, situated in the old Victory Theatre. During the trip up the mountain I pointed out a couple of long gone places with only the stone walls remaining, the rest consumed by fires long past and long forgotten. Life goes on. The place that always stands out for me it the concrete fence with Iron bars with the Rotunda still standing, the concrete stucco flaked off and the barest skeleton of rocks, leaving an almost ancient pagan religous-like edifice standing.

Another place with the walls only standing, was just off the highway..... Stratford Girl's School at Lawson burnt away in 1980. Again just the walls are all that were remaining. We didn't stop to see it but I knew it was there.

So there were these little reminders as we headed altitude-ward up the highway winding across the mountain ridge, meanwhile the plume of smoke was getting larger, giving us a reminder a bit closer to the present.

The sunlight turned that eery orange red colour as the almost purple coloured smoke stripped out the blues from the sunrays passing through. There was a nervy calmness from the locals by the time we reached Blackheath. I order a coffee and Nachos, my friend ordered some pancakes a juice and some beet and fetta cheese bruschetta. Life was still going on a little warily, the food was good, the epicures satisfied and the ambience was disturbed as another water bombing helicopter passed by overhead.

We then checked out a bookshop and the owner was blissfully reading a book amongst some rare old titles. Brahms played in the background and I asked to take a look at the early Ian Fleming titles on offer. Life goes on.

Then it was off to Govett's Leap. I forgot my camera, so sorry no picture of the haze. However it was beatiful, like a fog. With choppers cutting through the smoky mist like mosquitoes with a belly full of water, the submersible pump and hose dangling below ready to suck up the next payload. They were buzzing excitedly around the fire jockeying for position.

So that was yesterday. Today I took him to the airport and headed back home with the radio going. Seems there will be a strong wind coming through later in the night which may make things a little difficult. Blackheath and a couple of other towns nearby may have some problems with fires near houses. Towns further down the mountain in the path of the wind may get some embers and sparks starting new spot fires....time will tell. One of the towns mentioned isn't far from here so I'm semi-ready to take action should the need arise. Flood the gutters, shower the roof, work out what to take if I have to, close the windows that sort of thing. It's a rare chance but it's a chance.

People wonder why people live up here. There's a small sadness present amongst the positives and the energy which somehow draws and keeps people here like magic. I've heard it described as "serpent energy" which can be best described as terrible and wonderous at the same time. I like it, it suits me.

At the moment the lady lyre bird is chirping away her senses may be in tune with the inferno 30kms away, perhaps she'll make it, perhaps she won't. Life goes on.


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