Bushfire Christmas

Image by Scott Marsh: http://scottmarsh.com.au/ This image, originally a mural finished on Christmas Eve, has been turned into a T-shirt. The original was painted over on 27 December.

This page is the beginning of an archive of messages, post and reports about the 2019 Christmas season. I’ve created it so that people do not forget, once the smoke finally lifts, this unprecedented natural disaster and the extraordinary community response. I hope it will help to galvanise the national debate about global warming, sustainability and what sort of future we want.

To make it worthwhile, I need your help. Please contribute to the archive, which I propose be published under a Creative Commons license. This means that users are able to reuse, remix and share the content legally but always with an attribution of the original creator. If you wish to submit a message sent to you privately by someone, and which is not in the public domain, you need to seek their permission to share it. They own the copyright of their creation.

Messages from firefighters and their families

A post on 10 December by Meg McGowan went viral: she set out in frank detail the lot of the volunteer firefighter.

No, Scott Morrison, my husband does NOT want to be fighting fires this summer!

Thank you for sharing

Dr Geoff Goldrick, a deputy captain with the NSW Rural Fire Service in Northern NSW, catalogued the year’s extreme climate events

A Christmas message from the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, started: 

I have truly struggled with what to write this year so I think a simple reflection on the events of this season so far is best.This season has been unprecedented to date and unfortunately we still have a way to go. Temperature records are breaking, the State is experiencing an extraordinary and long phase drought period with 100% of NSW currently drought declared/affected. Fire danger ratings have been extraordinary and the associated fire behaviour likewise.Since the 1st July, we have had 8,240 fires which have burned an area of 3.41 million hectares…We also experienced for the first time, concurrent Catastrophic Fire Danger ratings across Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Greater Sydney Regions. There have been, 39 Section 44 declarations, 111 days of consecutive Section 44 declarations, 45 days of Total Fire Ban (including 8 days of State wide Total Fire Bans), 2 State of Emergency declarations of which one remains current, 272 Emergency Alert campaigns successfully delivering 153 409 voice messages and 1,134,447 SMS messages.

Shane Fitzsimmons
Dec 21
So many cards, notes, drawings, poems, etc. from kids these recent months, filled with such heartfelt, innocent & beautiful messages, that truly lift spirits and keep all our teams going in these difficult times. This lovely bunch today, from The Paper Factory. Thanks all #NSWRFS

Messages from friends

I posted this posted this picture on Facebook on 5 December. Since then, the dominant conversation among my FB friends has been the bushfires. The atmosphere, literal and metaphorical, has been infused by smoke, fear, anger, care, hope for rain and for leadership.

Here are a couple of the reactions to that post:

    • Come visit me at office if you want a mask. I have a stock and I’m using them
    • Isn’t your house in the danger zone?
      • FB Not yet
    • Hope it stays that way. [Ed. It’s 30 December and our cars are packed.]
On 28 December 2019 our community in Bundanoon received a very frank briefing from the RFS: the fire will come. Be prepared. Here’s the tenor of the responses I received: 
Other responses to the fire

On 24 December, my Bushfire haiku was published in Pearls and Irritations. I called there for others to contribute to this archive, and I repeat that invitation now. Please leave a comment or send me an email at <fbeddie@makeyourpoint.com.au>  and share this with others.

The first response was from Dr Geoff Davies: 

As I write I breathe the nearby forest and its creatures. Except they are no longer trees, or animals, or fungus:

Read more at Dr Davies’ blog 

On New Year’s Eve Katrina Kittel, a NSW historian, penned this reaction to the South Coast inferno:

What’s on my mind, you ask, Facebook? A yellow-orange moon, a dusty murky night sky, a Family Fireworks broadcast distracted by emergency fire warnings at the bottom of the screen, grief for by people and places and bush habitats, and an elderly widow* of Tomakin (not far from Mogo Zoo) who recently gave me (with pride) her hand-knitted garish-green, purple and lurex-threaded …  baubled tea cosy. Phones are out down Batemans way. She struggles with the fire-smoke these days. A handmade Xmas rum-soaked Xmas cake she mailed us is unopened. Her cash arrived with a lottery ticket today – her most recent payment for books – in recent weeks she’s bought 33 copies of Shooting Through (which includes her late husband’s account as told to me) … Phones are out…She loves GREEN. Too much green has gone. Rise up if you’re feeling green, moving into green. Blast the climate-change, greenhouse effect, demon denial madmen.

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