On Saturday 7 February the temperature soared to 46.4 degrees Celsius (115.5 degrees Fahrenhiet) in Melbourne and hot, gale force winds raced across the state of Victoria from the north. Authorities warned of high bushfire danger, the land parched more than a month without rain. But no one anticipated the hell to follow.

‘Black Saturday’ saw vast parts of the state engulfed by fires too fast to fight or flee. Witnesses describe flames ‘raining down from the sky’, ‘like a snowstorm of red embers’. Trees exploded, homes burned, cars were vaporised. Whole towns–Marysville, Kinglake, Flowerdale–were razed.

At last count, 181 people have died. More than 50 others are still missing. Most burned to death in their cars as they tried to flee.

Victoria has been in a state of shock and grief this past week. Everyone seems to know someone affected by the fires.

An appeal set up by the Australian Red Cross has so far raised nearly $50 million. Donations can be made here.

Only days later, the temperature has plummeted as low as 12 degrees overnight. No one dares complain about the sudden cold: for the first time this week, conditions have improved for those still fighting the fires.

And I never thought I’d say it, but I miss the weather in Cambodia. I miss the reliability of the heat. I  miss the torrential monsoonal rains and the cooling, kite-flying winds. I miss the moist air that made my skin glow and hair curl. Yet when I wrote a list of all the things I would and would not miss about Cambodia in the days before leaving Phnom Penh, the weather was on the list of what I would not miss.

Nothing like drought, heatwaves and raging bushfires to put things in perspective.


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One Response to “Perspective”

  1. Phuket « Oh, the places you’ll go! Says:

    […] via Sydney to Melbourne, arriving home just in time for a heatwave, followed a week or so later by terrible bushfires. Both Roo and I started new jobs within weeks, fortunate to find work and to find employers […]

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