Life after a fire storm

It’s been 18 months since the place we called home for 20 years went up in smoke and last week we finally went back to pay a visit. We had sold our share of the property some years ago but the memories of 20 years of living in this beautiful but dangerous part of the world are strong, after all we transformed the bushland to a home with gardens, sheds, dams and animals (pigs, chooks, ferrets, guinea pigs and dogs) and interacted with lots of native animals, birds and insects. The children ran wild over 150 acres – they built cubbies, drove paddock bombs, caught yabbies and yellow belly fish (golden perch) as well as skinks, tadpoles and an assortment of lizards. The house had large windows to take advantage of the light and bush views but birds often hit the windows too and we became adept at caring for them until they regained their equilibrium. There were hundreds of different birds and we learnt all about them – the tiny black and red mistletoe bird, those beautiful finches that nested in the ground and the large noisy, egg and tomato stealing currawongs. We could hear the deep grunting the koalas made but didn’t see them often, but we saw plenty of kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas as well as snakes. We had a large vegetable garden and many fruit trees but it was definitely a challenge sharing the produce with the birds, kangaroos and possums. There were weddings – including our own – many birthday and new year’s eve parties (renowned for water fights – children vs adults) and other social events. I taught Reiki there and did many remedial massages – it was incredible that my clients would travel on dusty, bumpy or muddy and slippery roads for a treatment. It was a truly wonderful place for a young family to live but every summer I was anxious about fires and snakes; we had a few close encounters with fires and snakes but we were lucky not be living there when the property experienced the catastropic fire 18 months ago.

I had heard about the Australian bush’s ability to regenerate post a fire but until I saw it with my own eyes I would not have believed the extent to which this is true. Yes many trees died and the survivors have that weird new growth sprouting out all over the tree but the amount of new trees sprouting up where none were before is incredible, there are millions of gums, wattles and other shrubs there now. We walked around trying to find landmarks – the chimney footings, bits of tile and contorted shapes of glass and metal. I was more interested in what survived in the garden and found many young seedlings of shrubs and trees we had planted, it became clear why some plants are pests in the australian bush when you see just how well they do compared to native plants (I refer to agapanthus and periwinkle).

The property will be vastly different from now on – another phase of life has commenced.