I missed the news tonight so this has taken me by surprise.


My aunt and uncle live in a part of Sydney that backs onto the bush and there were many times in our childhood when we raced over there to help them evacuate as fires would sweep up the gully.

The smoke, the panic and the heat are obvious recollections but it was the eerie stillness that I remember most. Sure there were sirens and chainsaws and people screaming instructions and updates to neighbours and whoever was on duty with the hose on the roof, but there would be this ominous stillness through all of it. Like nature was just watching us all scurrying around smirking to itself, biding its time.

The worst year was when fire came to their back verandah. Their house was saved but a house one door up was razed. As was about six (from memory) on their street.

That was in suburban Sydney. I can only imagine the voracity, the speed and the sheer scale of these fires burning through country areas. These people can only do so much to protect their homes and property. This isn’t about keeping a good fire break, putting tennis balls in your drainpipes and filling your gutters with water.