A few days down south

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stunet started the topic in Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 12:59pm

A few days down south

The darkness begins at South Nowra. The bushfire here - otherwise known as the Currowan fire - extended further north, but the northern arm of the blaze ran inland towards the Southern Highlands well away from the Princes Highway, so for people travelling south the first signs of the fire appear just beyond the land of the black cockatoo.

At first it's a few small patches along the road or a line of charred tree tops just beyond it as the highway winds through Tomerong, the brown increasing until Wandandian where all green disappears and the countryside assumes a common visage: grey earth, black trees, tawny leaves - if there are any leaves left at all - and for long stretches that's all there is as the road winds south towards Ulladulla. The only reprieve from the monocolour are the houses, and it’s while contemplating these that I got the first inkling of human intervention, the result hitting me like a sledgehammer.

Picture rolling hills of brown, everything burnt, charred from soil to crown, and suddenly a house standing intact depite being singed to the doormat. Then consider what it took to save that house.

“They’ve got a radical story to tell,” I told myself, but then over the rise is another house still standing, then around the corner another house, and another, all surrounded by brown but the houses themselves saved - radical story upon radical story. The human cost of the fires will be calculated over years, even by those who survived it.

South from Sussex Inlet every single road sign is charred, the text widened as the surrounding paint peeled back, while on some the paint is gone altogether and they're now just sheet metal again. Where the countryside opens up before Conjola there's a view west towards the Budawangs with bush-covered ridges, each rising higher from the dairy farms at Yatte Yattah. What did those farmers see when the fire came out of the gorge country fuelled by a dry nor'wester? When Cormac McCarthy saw "fires on the hills" around El Paso, Texas, it inspired his best work in 'The Road', though it's hard to imagine Aussie farmers having the same rhetorical response.

There are some similarities though. With the fires wreaking havoc during holiday time, the road - just like in the book - has become a communication line with small towns trying to siphon off highway traffic, any traffic at all. Crisp white signs hang on charcoal trees: "bistro open late", "fresh peaches 200 metres", "we welcome you", plus the gratitude of every hamlet, village, and town towards the fireys is displayed on makeshift signs. It'd been a week since the first rains fell and some of the signs were missing letters.

Like many, I checked the RFS website on the reg over Christmas/New Year, watching grey dots expand like bacteria in a petri dish, growing between clicks till they joined other dots becoming another major blaze. But a two-dimensional depiction lacks topography and can't show the way fires behave through gradients. Paddocks were burnt at Yatte Yattah, grass verges too, all low and contained, but on the last rise up to Milton there's a gully to the west and the fire has clearly taken hold amongst the tress. The first house over the top is intact but it's ringed by plastic buckets, the exact same ones I hold my westuit in, all still filled with water.

My eldest boy and I stayed at Lake Tabourie with friends who faced the fire three separate times; when it came from the south in early December, then from the west, and then the last day, the worst day, when it came from the north-west, broke the containment lines at Wheelbarrow Road, moved south into Meroo National Park claiming the houses in the bush out there before moving towards Tabourie, in the process jumping the highway onto the dunes at Wairo Beach.

It was the second time they'd got the kids out, drove north on the highway when it opened, no time to chat when they dropped the kids with inlaws because they had to get back on the bitumen before the highway closed again. Their house was as ready as ever, gutters full of water, full bathtubs outside the house, all leaf litter removed especially from the base of gums, overhanging branches chainsawed. My mate's a lifelong surfer so he knows his shit about the weather, but his wife got a crash course in compass directions, they kept the communication tight and like all good gamblers they had an exit strategy - a point that, when reached, they'd both bail.

The bush spotted just behind them, embers flew overhead like comets, but fortunately the southerly hit before that point was reached. They were saved. We stayed up late drinking Fireball whisky and decompressing. The next day we took our boys surfing nearby. Got changed in a sandy carpark surrounded by charred banksias and grass trees.

The Currowan fire first made news in early December when it crossed the highway near Murramarang, surrounding North Durras, Depot Beach, and then moved north towards Kioloa, Bawley Point, and Termeil where it razed a handful of houses. I turned right at the BP servo and followed the Old Princes Highway up into the mountains looking for a friends house. They no longer live there but they built the house and didn't know if it had survived. It was a wooden house, on a ridge line, facing north in a region where a wildfire had swept through. The signs weren't good, but remarkably the house was still there. When I came back down the road I had to pull over for a fire truck, sirens blaring, screaming up the hill. Around the same time my phone started pinging, both the RFS alert and my mate telling me a fire had broken out at Termeil and to be careful. As I turned onto the highway two more trucks turned up the road in succession, plus more passed me as I drove south. I was driving away from it anyway.

It was 40° that day, the wind howled from the nor-west and the humidity dropped from 70% to 7% in a few hours. Visiblity was no more than a kilometre and the sky turned the colour of sand, like a scene from the movie version of 'Dune'. We drove into Bateman's Bay where there was an uneasy truce - the fires may be 'over', but the beaches were almost empty, same with the streets, while the people left outside ogled the brigades racing north. No-one appeared relaxed.

Late in the day my son and I drove back north again, we passed a road sign to Currowan, a one-horse town on the Kings Highway now forever associated with the fires. We got back to Tabourie an hour before dark as the wind improbably dropped to a breeze, an offshore breeze, and enjoyed an incredible session. In all we'd seen just over a hundred kilometres of burnt out country, yet there was five hundred more kilometres of similar destruction south of Bateman's Bay through to Bairnsdale. It's hard to put your head around the damage and what the cost will be. 

Heading north towards home we turned into Bendalong. Driving around the previous few days I'd come to recognise what the RFS describes as categories of severity. Some areas burnt cool with only undergrowth gone, some crowned with all leaves burnt, but for a few kilometres across the top of Bendalong Mountain the damage is nuclear - day after Nagasaki type shit. Grey ground, not a shred of undergrowth or leaf, nor even any branches, the bush, or what's left of it, looks like Brett Whiteley's burnt matchstick sculpture. Where once you could see tens of metres into the bush at best, sight lines now run for kilometres, it's possible to see fire trails way off yonder, all the undulations of the country are evident, and even the blue of the ocean is visible. The Australian bush needs fire, but is it possible to come back from this scale of destruction?

Down at the coast the work of the fireys is again apparent. With one road in and out of Bendalong/Manyana, everyone left in there had to be evacuated to the beach. Local shaper Michael Saggus told people to come and grab all his boards in case they needed to escape the heat by paddling out to sea. North Bendalong is burnt on all four sides, yet no houses have been lost. Bendalong itself was also ringed by fire, in fact there are trees in backyards that have burnt, some of them overhanging houses, but all those houses still stand. The radical stories mount up.

During the blaze I was forwarded footage of a truck from Ingleside Fire Brigade driving down Curvers Drive, Manyana. As the blaze moved from Bendalong to Manyana the houses on that road were first in the firing line. As calmly as ordering a beer at the local, the firey could be heard asking for three more units "or the suburb would go". Evidently the dispatch arrived cos I drove down Curvers Drive and, aside from some sheds and garages, all the houses were intact.

On the way back out towards the highway I stopped at Nerringillah Road, midway along Bendalong Road. Two years ago my wife and I looked at a property in there, located maybe two kilometres along the dirt road. I arranged an inspection and the agent warmly showed me around mentioning that it complied with the old bushfire plans, that it would be easy to comply with the new upcoming bushfire plans, that there was a tank and dam on a hill to fight bushfires, and that the neighbours survived the last bushfire. The property was off grid, completely surrounded by bush, and in a valley. I thanked him and bid farewell - and noticed the property sold a few months later. Now I stood near the letterboxes, which were intact but surrounded by charred bush, and a part of me wanted to drive down that road and see how the property fared, while another part was troubled by what I might see. And that part won out.

I drove back to the highway thinking what my mate at Tabourie told me while we were getting pissed on Fireball whisky. "A wooden house out in the sticks is what we wanted, but after this summer a brick house on the highway will do just fine."

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garyg1412 commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 1:57pm

Great read. You just cannot comprehend the scale of these events unless you see them first hand. Me - never thankfully!!! Hats off to all those that did and played their part in their own stories.

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blackers commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 4:05pm

This ranks up there amongst your best work Stu. Some unbelievable work done by the RFS and CFA boys and girls, as well as those in the communities who stayed, helping each other out. Still a lot of the season left, take care out there.

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CMC commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 4:55pm

Been down there quite a bit and can picture the areas you have described but am yet to see them.
I'm heading down there in two weeks for a few days to spend some money and support in my own little way.
Do you know if Grant Miller's new place survived unscathed?

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indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 4:58pm

BTW. Blindboy moved down to those parts yeah?

Hope he and family and house etc are okay.

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 5:53pm

There's bush near where BB has moved, but none of it was directly threatened by the fires.

Not sure where Grant Miller lives, so can't speak about him.

Every single biz down there is doing it tough. Take an empty esky, give the finger to Woolworths and Coles, and fill up at the local stores.

EDIT: And just quietly, Fireball whisky is the shiz.

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Ronson commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 6:08pm

Nice work Stu. I too was in the same area for most of January, just back in the cube today, and the courage of all the volunteers and the local communities warms the cockles. Some of the retail businesses in the Milton-Ulladulla region wont survive the lack of trade during a time when they might normally do 60-80% of their annual takings. Being in the middle of it, trapped, yet sorta safe depending on the wind. It got very real for Narrawallee, where I was, between new years day and the 4th (which was the Armageddon day for this nook anyway).
We'd been getting very jumpy watching the Conjola/Manyana/Bendalong area go up in a raging inferno. Do we stay or do we go? We had friends camping on our floor from Manyana. Including a 92 year old granny who was barely ambulant. And their yappy little cunt of a dog, how that thing didn't end up with busted ribs I'll never know. A mate in a caravan at Sussex was trapped and he wasn't confident that he wouldn't be standing chest deep in the inlet at any moment. He was ok a few days later but he couldn't unsee some things.
Narrawallee on the 4th rode the nor'wester all day as fire raged on the other side of the inlet. If it crossed it would have run along the brush up the beach and through houses into Bannisters and Mollymook, then who knows. Everything depended on the time the southerly came. My family was happily ensconced at the nearest evac centre, the golf club at the south end of Mollymook. It was come one, come all there with pets allowed inside...chickens, cats, dogs, rabbits...all usually mutually exclusive when it comes to territory but even they seemed to sense that everyone had to just muck in and ride it out.
I only went to the golf club once, late that afternoon, to be told on arrival that Narrawallee was being evacuated. Now the chinese whispers had been out of control all day and I would argue that was the greatest source of stress in that zoo. That and the floor to ceiling windows giving a panoramic view to the north of what was coming. The power stayed on, thankfully, without that it could have got all Hurricane Katrina in there. I'd left my 6'4 oldest son with the instruction not to let my fifteen yr old daughter out of his sight. One more thing to worry about...
Hearing of the "evacuation" I thought, fuck that I'll go and see for myself so I drove down to the inlet, the opposite shore burning, only to see blokes standing around in sluggos after their paddle about, you wouldn't know it other than you couldn't breathe and barely see.
As I turned around to head back to quash that rumour the southerly hit so hard it pushed the car across the road. But, you beauty, we were good. well besides the power lines that came down due to the severity of the wind change. But then Dolphin Pt and that area were suddenly in great peril. At that moment a mate of mine who was suiting up for the RFS rang to see what the wind was doing as he was about to head to the upper Thredbo valley where the southerly meant that Thredbo itself was right in the firing line.
Just the relentlessness of worry is what I remember. Constant knot in stomach, doubting whether the decision to stay and ride it out had put my family in greater danger than I first thought. Even though I had rigged up sprinklers for my roof for ember attack (if I heard one more time "...embers can travel up to 30km you know! from some po-faced twit" ) and even though I had buckets and hoses and all that I was prepared to stand in the lagoon and watch the house I had worked all my life for be destroyed that day. Days of breathing in smoke were really affecting people too. Grey/yellow sky, grey/yellow ocean. No wind, too much wind. Etc.
And but for that southerly change it may have happened. One other thing: a neighbour mentioned that the whole evacuation zone, basically from Nowra to the Vicco border had seen thousands of people run the gauntlet back to Sydney but to him it meant less people with hoses and therefore more water pressure for those who remained. The things you learn eh? Maybe the state government made the right call? Maybe they made it just to reduce the sheer number of people that may need help?
Here's another tip; there an app called Windy, the amount of information on that thing is hard to reconcile considering it's free.
A few of the other blokes who were staying to fight all agreed that when the southerly came we'd hit the piss, hard. Nup. when our families arrived and everyone was safe we all went to bed, utterly fucken exhausted. I slept for 14 hours in the starfish position. The sleep of the almost damned.
And unlike so many others I didn't have to actually stare it down. Yet the impact on my family is so profound. Kayaks, SUP's etc to the rescue to feed animals dying by the northern side of the Inlet. Wild animals eating and drinking from your hands. A tragic and also uplifting experience. Hard to reconcile as I sit in an air-conditioned office.
One last thing - looters and arsonists are the worst kind of scum. I can't think of anything violent and sustained that would be appropriate punishment for them.

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stunet commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 7:05pm

Crazy days, eh Ronson? Glad to hear you got through it OK.

Chatting to my friends at Tabourie and they were thankful their most dangerous day came at the end of a four week long campaign. They'd learnt so much in that time - about how fires behave, about fire fighting techniques, even learnt things about themselves - that they were battle hardened when it came.

Utterly exhausted, of course, but ready.

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Rabbits68 commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 7:15pm

Amazing read Stu. Could sort of picture it but to truly understand one needs to see it first hand for sure. Thanks for sharing that. Cheers.

Crystal Clear

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goofyfoot commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 7:41pm

Crazy stories Stu and Ronson, both gave me goosebumps.
Got our wedding anniversary in June, instead of flying to Byron as planned, now going to pack the camper trailer and head up the South Coast. Fuck they must be doing it tough

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pointy commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 8:09pm

Are you drinking the Fireball with cloudy apple juice? That's the best way imo

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freeride76 commented Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020 at 8:18pm

going out on the weekend to help with fencing on a farm that got destroyed by fire near Tabulam.

lots of carnage in those communities who are still doing it very tough and now well out of the spotlight.

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Lottolonglong commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 2:02am

Good on ya free ride,
My old man lost his place in Moruya last week, my sister managed to save her house with 6 fire units blasting, they were so prepared and nearly lost,
I resigned from my job today on the northern beaches,I got my station wagon packed and will be doing that drive to old Moruya town,I'm semi prepared for what I'll see south of nowra,that was a good description of what I'm expecting,I'm sure it will be way worse though!!!
I'm finished with Sydney,such crowded aggro surfers here,I'm going home,I'm cashed up,gonna help the old man clean up his property then rebuild,start a vege patch,but most of all I'm gonna surf !

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freeride76 commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 5:59am

good luck with the new chapter.

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stunet commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 8:35am

Onya Lotto, and cheers for the tip Pointy.

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belly commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 8:59am

Great stuff lotto, might see you at 1 of the uncrowded line ups I frequent.

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mcbain commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 9:10am

Nice work Lotto. Probably run into you round here. Looking shitty this fri and sat as well so take care.

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Lottolonglong commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 9:32am

Cheers,any of u people Sven? Ha ha

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chook commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 11:14am

damn, that was a harrowing read.

my GF is away for two weeks. I had planned on going down the south coast camping. but i don't think i can handle being by myself down there and seeing all these places that i love destroyed.

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Roystein commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 12:33pm

Thank you stu and Ronson for taking the time to paint a picture commercial media hasn’t really managed to paint.
I have driven through near some of the places one year on a long road trip from home to the snowies. It really is core Australia and I have fond memories. Got to get back there and sooner rather than later.

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fitzroy-21 commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 12:55pm

Some great reading above, never underestimate the ability of the Aussie bush to recover, the people may take a bit longer though.

And good on you lotto, I did the same from the NB's near 25 years ago and never looked back.

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Blowin commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 1:16pm

Good read , Stu. Thanks.

Unfortunately , like any natural disaster, for many crew who may have even escaped the fires with their lives and property intact there is still the trauma to deal with long after the direct threat is removed.

People I know down that way are quite fucked up. They fought to save their properties and mostly succeeded. But now they’re just lost. Their patriarch is your classic stoic Aussie bushman , capable and strong in virtually any situation. He fought the flames at his place and the houses of his two sons and only lost a few sheds and a couple of veggie gardens.

Another mate went to visit him a couple of days ago and reckons he just broke down in tears in front of him. Not something you’d ever imagine this fella doing. Apparently he’s fighting hard with his missus too , something else which you’d never expect. The stress of these situations keeps on keeping on sometimes.

And some communities never recover. Sure , the economy of the place may rekindle , houses get rebuilt and vegetation returns, but the soul of the place is damaged beyond repair.

Some people find they can’t live there anymore. The impact of the catastrophe destroys any sentiment they feel for the area they previously loved. Homes go on the market cheap and get snapped up by investors and people who don’t share the communal vibe that used to exist.

The entire feeling of a place changes and this causes even more of the legacy townspeople to leave.

Mc Mansions replace the old beach cottages. Money comes to town. Workers who come to rebuild never leave.

It’s a change of the heart of the town . Better or worse .... who’s to say ? That’s a matter of perspective.

Sometimes the worst effects of a catastrophe aren’t always physical.

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mcbain commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 2:41pm

Ha! I aint Sven! But surf with him regularly at my local, absolute gentleman and pre-dawn guru!

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Ronson commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 2:57pm

Yeah mate the bush will recover, and it will take a long while in some areas aka. Stu's recount of Bendalong mountain, but the animals that have survived have lost their habitat possibly for years and years. I'm actually a stickler for sentence structure, punctuation and grammar but that loose stream-of-consciousness thing I wrote last night somehow subconsciously oozed the panic and fear of those days.

On Grant Miller, well he was up on Little Forest Rd, Yatte Yattah, I know the house and it would have been in big big trouble. If he's moved in the last few years then I hope he's better off than he otherwise would have been. Nothing goes up like a one stop shop shaping & glassing bay. Next to a house? Whooooosh...

And the incongruity of houses and sheds right next to blackened stumps never ceased to amaze me either. Old mate 100m south of the peach hut at Jerrawangala has been through this a few times and every time its like this little oasis of green in a sea of black. He knows what to do!!

And yeah, the little places that aren't in the news anymore must be struggling badly. If you cant see it must not be there right? With Narrawallee I knew there were no trails you would get a fire truck down to head it off. I knew it wasn't, and couldn't, be a priority in terms of resources. I did know that if it did in fact end up on the edge of that subdivision that priority would have changed as it stood to threaten a larger urban area. Might have been too late for some though. My son has some drone footage, not much, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why some areas are completely wiped out and others are not. Yes topography and wind fluctuations, but over that vast area its quite weird.

See, nice orderly paragraphs...

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Ronson commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 3:11pm

One huge positive i must mention is that when things settled down people came back in droves. The last week I was down there it was pretty much business as usual and the relief was palpable that things may yet be salvageable economically. To those who went down to spend some money and help out in the best way possible - its gone further than you might think.

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Lottolonglong commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 7:51pm

Sven is probably the most barrelled human on Sth coast,possibly OZ!

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velocityjohnno commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 9:46pm

"A wooden house out in the sticks is what we wanted, but after this summer a brick house on the highway will do just fine."

Great writing Stu.

Dad's dream was to retire at Aireys. Well, after '83, him and mum changed. When we moved west there was no way whatsoever they were living up in the hills in the bush. That day was the only day I ever saw him afraid.

Those images, during and afterward, they stick. When it was our turn to downshift/treechange/seachange whatever (remember we were just little kids when the big fire happened in our lives) we looked at places in/near the national parks here, but just couldn't do it. When you see normality peel away and inferno replace it, well, it's been a long time since I've seen a big fire and I haven't forgotten.

To you guys in NSW/QLD/Gippsland, things get better. Not the same, but better. The devil north wind still scares me though, on those hot days devoid of humidity and with 100km/h winds - like on Black Saturday when we were passing through Adelaide traveling. That was a scary scene. I look for signs of green in the trees and grasses, which I can still see here in the part of Vic we are in.

Lottolonglong, thanks for the uplifting post (excuse the pun). It was a great move in our case, and sounds like you are going home which is sweeter still. Hope you being there helps your family.

Might be traveling with my son up to NSW in a month or so, if so think I will detour and go via the south coast communities.

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zenagain commented Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020 at 11:15pm

Jeez everyone, fantastic reading- I'm uncharacteristically lost for words.

The South coast is very special to me. While i've surfed there sporadically over the years, it's a place I could see myself seeing out my years. To hear peoples accounts of the blazes, the tragic loss of life, wildlife and properties but on the same token the triumph of the human spirit, renews my faith in humanity.

Again, this is why I like Swellnet. Someone mentioned above how this site captures what commercial media can't. I wholeheartedly concur.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

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Lottolonglong commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 12:16am

Yeah wow,just got back in Sydney tonight after driving down this morning dropping first load of gear
I was nervous as I went past Jervis bay turn off knowing its gonna start any moment, a couple of patches here n thereof what stu described then bang it hit me,the true devastating realistic impact,until u see it for yaself it hard to explain,u can see 3-4 hundred metres cleanly straight through the Bush, not one bird,animal or color apart from the colours described above, I seen houses that I didn't know we're there previously,roads under bridges I assumed were creeks,dams just off the hwy to the left and right,only all visible cuz th growth and build up debri was so horribly burnt.
My old man's chook pen miraculously survived, 4 chickens must have had a terrifying time,he went out to his property this morning and they were dead and chewed up a few metres outside of pen,couldn't have been a Fox cuz a Fox would have taken em back to its burrow,hawk or eagle is likely bet!!!
4 bushy plants almost in season gooooone,that's gonna sting in a couple of months he reckons with a laugh. All his aluminum scrap,(ladders,mag wheels etc) all melted down to the bottom of a hill they were sitting on, looks very trippy,he joked he wouldn't mind getting some acid to look at it.
We ordered a generator,shipping container and a steel water tank today, he getting some rebates for somethings, we gotta wait now til national parks clears the road so we can access his property, No availability of any plant equipment for a while cuz they are all flat out and busy elsewhere making containment lines cuz it's still far from over! Bodalla and potato point are in firing line next few days

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belly commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 8:08am

My 'laws are at Tuross, since 31 Dec I've been worried for PP and Beachcomber. And if that forest burns hard a southerly change lauching an ember attack on Tuross. Tuross has great natural asset protection for fire but nevertheless it does have some fuel load areas that can burn.

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Lottolonglong commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 8:51am

Anything's possible at moment,I would not feel safe between narooma and Moruya

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belly commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 8:53am

Agreed

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belly commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 8:55am

And to the immediate north of Moruya.

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stunet commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 9:39am

Next three days will be a knife's edge for all town's south of Broulee. From what I can gather, there's been rain down there, however they largely missed the thunderstorms that rolled into the Illawarra and places north early last week, bucketing those coasts. Can anyone correct me there?

And Ronson, there's a time for orderly paragraphs and a time for breathless stream of conciousness and I reckon you chose correctly. Cheers mate, hell of an ordeal but glad to hear you've come out on top.

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mcbain commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 11:25am

Yeah, we are south of the Moruya river. Dry as the proverbial. Got about 10-15mm from those storms about 2-3wks ago.
We will probably be ok here as long as the forecast of N and NE winds are right, and we dont get any more flare ups east of the highway.
Further south, Coila, Turlinja, Bodalla, Potao point, Tilba, Dalmeney must all have their fingers crossed.
Lots of controlled burns over the last few days and heaps of air assets here now. The large retardant jet made its way here for the first time (I think) yesterday.
Ive still got about 20kL of water, fire pump, hoses, sprinklers etc, and done more clearing, so more of the same - wait and see...

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Westofthelake commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 12:00pm

Great read Stu. You certainly have a way of turning words into images. It's hard to imagine 500 plus kilometres of burnt out land, and how much flora and fauna have been turned to charcoal.

Anyone else get the feeling that January will break all previous records for temperature?

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Craig commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 1:17pm

Heavy photo depicting I'm guessing what Stu's described around Bendalong :( There's nothing left, the loss of wildlife..

Photo taken by Forest Fire Management Victoria's Forest Fire Operations Officer, Dion Hooper, north of Buchan in East Gippsland on "Wombargo Track looking towards Cobberas".

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freeride76 commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 1:27pm

jeezus. thats fucking devastating.

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goofyfoot commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 1:48pm

Fuck me dead that’s as far as you can see. That’s horrendous

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Lottolonglong commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 2:27pm

The old man reckons its drizzled a few nights in Moruya town centre,but doesn't know how long its drizzled for each time cuz can't hear it on roof

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 2:49pm

oh god. that picture. we are fucked, aren't we. this year will be even hotter and drier than last year. and next year hotter and drier again...

i haven't updated my end-of-times plan since 1982 -- rob a chemist and get smacked-out till i o.d. but i can't think of a better idea at this point.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 3:02pm

wow thats as bad as it gets ,any wildlife left will stand out like dogs balls to foxes and cats ........just hope it does regenerate quickly cause if it dosent lantana and blackberry etc will take over and forever change the habitat .Sad.

simba

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 3:53pm

"this year will be even hotter and drier than last year. and next year hotter and drier again..."

The longer term forecast I've read don't say that (including the bom one for next few months), they say average temps may be higher, but there is no indication of a wetter or drier year ahead (apart from some areas) but generally speaking things seem neutral and inactive for El nino or La nina event and Indian Ocean Dipole is also Neutral.

fuhrious's picture
fuhrious's picture
fuhrious commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 4:24pm

What the BOM said is that Feb to April likely to be warmer than average and they are having an each way bet Feb to April 50-50 drier or warmer. To me that equates to yes it’s going to be hotter than average in the next three months and let’s hope the 50-50 is in favour of wetter times ahead.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 5:57pm

absent a strong cooling (La Nina) signal the clear trend is for hotter and drier years, with or without added climate drivers like IOD and SAM.

Last year we were on La Nina watch and ended up with record summer heat.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 7:04pm

Freeride....cheers for the Ghost review at Beachgrit.

Just had my sanity restored by re-reading it after tussling with the fucking thing. You nailed it perfectly. And I mean really narrowed down what it’s all about. I can’t really articulate board performance. Most times I’m guessing what’s working/ failing in a board . As I was reading I was nodding my head in agreement. Nice work there.

Tell you what though , it’s a reprieve is all. The bastard has two more surfs maximum to prove it’s worth. Doing my head in.

How can others love it so much whilst I hate it so badly ?

Sorry about the digression, folks. Just saw Freeride’s name on the homepage and jumped.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 7:23pm

A slight long term trend of warmer and drier conditions, doesn't actually mean every year gets hotter and less rainfall.

2019 was an extreme year for rainfall or lack off, the chances of that happening or worst in 2020 or 2021 is very low, the natural cycles of dry periods and wet periods wont end and we only have dry periods.

But then again even without Climate change there was times i think it was in the 20s or 30s where we had extremely long periods with low rainfall so you never know that could also happen, i guess nobody really knows.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 7:42pm

funny you mentioned that Blowin, I just pulled the Ghost out from under the house hoping to get it going again if we get some cyclone/autumn swell.

my mate had it for a while, thrashed it pretty good, as did I. It's in remarkably good nick.

not everyone loves every board, just like women, you need to find what turns you on.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 8:50pm

Great thread and read...thanks to all the contributors and best wishes to all affected. I thought the stories captured wonderfully the scale and the emotion of the tragedy...and then I see that photo.
Fuck me...just speechless.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 30 Jan 2020 at 10:34pm

Enjoyed the Ghost review FR. As a modern board with WP forward, yes, I had wondered... Good luck with it Blowin. JJF certainly used his well.
There's nothing left in that pic. The earth exhales.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 31 Jan 2020 at 9:50am

Hey Indo,

Message from BB last night, he's "safe and well....but bracing for the next few days", and he also appreciated for your concern.