Picked up my key to new house on October 17, ready to move in the next morning. Wandering round the verandah, overwhelmed at the beauty of my new home in the Blue Mountains, something catches my eye – oh, those trees on the edge of the garden are on fire. Um, that’s probably not good. So I go in and look round the place again. But when I go out again the fire is still there. The extent of my firefighting skills was to ring the estate agent and let her know, while I returned back to Bathurst.

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The next morning I rang her to see if the place was still standing, before setting off with a vanload of stuff. As it was, I moved in, fondly believing the fire had done its worst. Later discovered that worst included destroying the home of a couple of women I’d met the week before on a street less than a minute from mine – the fire I saw was the one that had wiped out 20 years of history. This photo shows the damage done to trees, I decided not to photograph the devastated homes and melted cars as it felt intrusive.

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Over the next week the levels of alarm rose and fell, with a very intense few days  around October 23 – each night I rang the local Rural Fire Service to see if it was OK to go to bed – fantastically helpful as I did not have TV or phone or internet connected and hadn’t realised the radio stations I needed were on AM frequency. When the answer was ‘no’ I stayed with friends for a couple of nights, one of the thousands travelling around NSW with a couple of suitcases in the car containing everything important – surprising how little that comes to in the end. This picture shows new fires in the distance.

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Kept leaving the house not knowing if it was last time, so tremendously glad to find it still standing – had a deep suspicion that this house and I are already friends and have some kind of future together, but I realise that sounds a  bit flimsy in the face of unstoppable bushfires. I got a sense of the scale of the thing one night coming home in the dark and realising that where I had seen alot of smoke on daylight journeys, at night the entire mountainside was backlit with fire, as its the ground that’s alight not always the tree tops.

So it has been an intiatation, this moving into the mountains, showing both the beauty and the power of nature. Luckily I never thought it had to be ‘nice’. What I love about Australian nature is that it is still wild and rather terrible, despite settler’s attempts to tame or deny it. This week, we all had a reminder of where we live, in flimsy houses on a fragile planet……

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