Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Going Bush

 A typical homestead in the bush.

On 29 November last year we headed out from Canberra and set off on a 2500 km round trip to visit my parents in south-east Queensland. Simon has done an interactive map showing our route and marking highlights with photos. Please click on the symbols if you want to follow our journey.

View Trip to Qld in a larger map

A typical pub in the bush.

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Warrumbungles Update: It's gloomy to say the least. The fire has burnt out over 54 000 ha and is still not out. Most of the burnt area is within the National Park, and 80% of the park is burnt. Ecologically it's a tragedy in terms of the 18 species of amphibians, 68 reptiles, 281 birds and 82 mammals. If they haven't been killed in the fire, food may now be short. Malleefowl, koalas, eastern pygmy possums and brush-tailed rock wallabies are of particular concern. Of course, in the long run, the magnificent volcanic formations that form the backbone of the park are unaffected, but the park is one of the last remnants of the Brigalow Belt, a tremendously rich but sadly undervalued bioregion in Australia. There has been some rain which has brought relief, but the local tourist office is despairing -- economically the National Park was their  biggest attraction. The visitor centre, which contained aboriginal artefacts, is destroyed, as are some of the Siding Spring Observatory buildings. There is a further social issue too -- 53 homes burnt out, 113 other buildings, many, many farm animals killed and much farm machinery damaged beyond repair. 

It seems likely that the fire was started by a lightning strike deep in the National Park. This made it almost impossible to control in those initial crucial few hours. Because of resources issues, Rural Fire Services usually let fires in wilderness areas burn, and focus their attention on human habitations and enterprises. Shockingly, it seems that resources in the future will be even scarcer. The RFS is only possible because of the dedication of its many volunteers, but the New South Wales government has decreed it must take a financial hit in these straitened times.

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Preuilly Snow Update: As predicted by the Météo, we had some rain and high winds, so the snow had more or less gone by yesterday afternoon.

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