Despite the devastating bushfires recently in East Gippsland, much of our beautiful forest area was spared. Driving today we stopped off to take some photos. So peaceful and incredibly beautiful.

New growth against a black hole at the base of a gum tree.

Fungus pushing up from the forest floor

Slighly eerie amongst the green, like a little alien pushing itself up to life.

Beautifully dangerous

I love the stillness of the Bush. A Bird in the distance calls plaintively to his mate, a frog somewhere nearby, and a cricket presents his song into the still, yet vibrant forest. We stand in silence, enjoying the majesty of Eucalypt gums, ancient and young, their particular perfume wafting on the whisper of the wind. How we love our trees and forest areas, yet knowing that in an instant that stillness can be broken by the sounds of flames, the roar of bushfire uncontrolled, and how quickly our enjoyment can turn to fear. How swiftly eyes that were moments before enjoying and relishing the perfection can suddenly be filled with horror and fear. We know and understand that these trees we love, can one day take all that we hold dear, for we know it is these self same trees that can ignite, shed their bark and leaves, and carry fire for many kilometers, destroying all in its incredibly erratic path. Fire has no respect for who we are or what we have. It can race up a hill with ferocious speed, taking one home here, leaving another untouched there, with no regard for anything except it’s hunger for fuel.

Driving through areas destroyed by fire, is incredibly sad, and frightening. You see the remains of dreams, taken in a moment in the fury of the fire. Twisted metal that was once the roof of a home someone loved, now lying utop a pile of rubble, bricks and half burnt timbers, a stark reminder that even that which is built on solid ground and foundations, can be gone by the whim of fire.

We love our harsh, wild, fantastical bush, and we build our hopes and dreams amongst the ghost gums on rolling green slopes, and in normal times, you can see many homes nestled in their idealic locations.

But after a fire, what you see is scarred landscapes where fire so intense has laid all the burnt trees in almost symmetrical lines down the side of a hill. You see whole areas nothing more than piles and drifts of grey white ash. You see blackened stumps that were once tall, splendid gum trees. And the silence of devastation, no birds, no crickets, frogs, nothing! Just a bleak blanket of devastated silence. It is the thing that strikes you most. There is a hopeless, deafening silence. It is as though the bushland mourns its unbelievable loss, and you feel compelled to mourn with it. Tears come easily to your eyes as you look with sadness at the loss.

Those idealic homes once nestled in green and rural, photographic splendor, are blackened, smoldering ruins, smoke still rising from ashes. Hopes, dreams, memories held lovingly within the walls, now lying, naked and exposed in the ash and dust. Sadness covers the landscape, as smoke so recently had done, hanging, silent, in the morning light.

What you see are faces, scarred like the landscape, smiles forgotten in the pain of loss, sorrow and grief.

And yet, in those eyes filled with tears, there is something else. When the tears are all cried, when the backs bowed with care straighten, there is a light in those eyes, and we call it The Aussie Spirit. It is that thing that makes us unique, that voice that says “She’ll be right mate”

That arm around shoulders burdened by pain, that slap on the back that tells us our mates are here with us. The moment when all seems dark, and the Utes come in through the burnt out gate, and your friends, neighbours and mates pitch in to help you rebuild the dream you thought was lost. And around the table that night, stories are told. The men out the back, beers in hands, the women around the table filled with dishes brought by friends filled with food now consumed.

And, as you stand at that burnt out gate, saying thanks and goodnight to the many who came to help, you realise what a great place this is. This place we call home. So exhausted, but incredibly grateful and proud to be anAussie and be surrounded by these generous, fun loving, humble “larrikins” you fall asleep, to awake to the sound of life in the bush, returning to “normal”

And you pack up the Ute, and join the line of vehicles, going “up country” to help a mate rebuild his dream.

I love this country, it is Australia.