Wrack and ruin

The roads are open. Not all of them, of course, as in Kinglake and other towns they are still sifting through the wreckage.
But I drove up to my place in the country on Saturday: the usual way, through Steels Creek and Yarra Glen, up through the Toolangi Forest, past Castella and through Glenburn to Yea and Yarck and my little half-acre which is still as I left it. But the world around it has changed beyond belief, beyond sadness.
I’ve driven through aftermath before, indeed I’ve driven through flaming bush. Every day for months I drove through the Royal National Park after the fire – blackened, then a glimmer of green.
But this…
There are parts that look like a normal bushfire has been through – bits of remnant foliage, some ground cover – maybe old trunks – for wildlife, a tree here and there untouched, the forest floor clears but substantial shrubs burned but still there. Horrifying but still a chance of survival for burrowing creatures and sturdy plants.
But there are parts of Toolangi that look like nothing I’ve ever seen. Bare charred trunks. And that’s it.
It’s as if there had never been any understorey at all. No skeletal saplings. No cover for anything.
Just trunks and a ghostly rain of grey leaves falling, then carpeting the ground.
Nothing can have survived it.
Whole populations of creatures must have been wiped out, just as whole townships have been reduced to the odd chimney and a tangle of iron.
So it must be a good thing that I’m reading/speaking at a benefit on March 22 at Abbotsford Convent – Writers for Wildlife – to support the recovery.
I’ll post details here soon.

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