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The long hard road to Recovery

On Saturday 7th of Febuary 2009, Melbourne temperatures hit a record high of 46.4 °C (115.5 °F) the hottest temperature ever recorded in an Australian capital city, humidity was as low as 6% and winds in excess of 100km were recorded. At 11:20 the first fires were spotted by the time they were extinguished over a month and a half later 173 people had died, 3,500 buildings were destroyed and 4500 km² 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) were burnt. The amount of energy released during the firestorm in the Kinglake-Marysville area was equivalent to the amount of energy released by 1,500 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs.

Six months on I visited the forests above Marysville and disturbing as it is thought I would share a few before and after shots of some waterfalls I visited.

Cumberland Falls
Before

After

Upper Cumberland Falls
Before

After (note that even the moss next to a water course has been burnt off the rocks)

Cora Lynn Falls
Before

After

The scale of this disaster on a human and natural level is hard to comprehend.

Hopefully one day I’ll get to re-shoot these locations after they have fully regenerated.

Trav

Comments

  • Jenni Tanner
    Jenni Tannerabout 5 years ago

    It’s hard to believe it will ever be the same. I’ve been around the area quite a few times in the last 6 months since the fires and each time I go there is more regeneration gradually covering the black, charred earth and trees. Sadly, there are areas which are showing little or no regeneration at all. I live on a property that was burned in the Ash Wednesday fires and even now, almost 26 years later, if you rub your hands over the trunks of the gum trees they are black from the charcoal on the bark. Thanks for sharing your before and after photos Travis, you are lucky to have them :-)

  • Hi Jenny,

    I’ve visited numerous areas burnt after Black Saturday where the fires weren’t so hot and much more of the flora survived. The devestation up around Cambarville however is horrific with hardly any revegetation occuring at all. I was up there trying to shoot for the regeneration comp but despite a lengthy and arduous walk I barely found any greenery at all… very, very sad. I wonder how long it will take…

    – Travis Easton

  • mspfoto
    mspfotoabout 5 years ago

    Hi trav you’ve done this nicely. If history is any thing to go by the bush will bounce back, the buildings will be rebuilt. The emotional scares however will be with us all forever.

  • In most areas I’ve visited the revegetation is going great guns up around here it must have been stupidly hot as there was virtually no reveg at all practically all the ferns were dead too. I think it will take a very long time to come back to it’s former glory but as you say bounce back it will. If only hearts were as resilient.

    – Travis Easton

  • Georgie Hart
    Georgie Hartabout 5 years ago

    Thanks for posting these fascinating comparisons Travis…a powerful demonstration of the destructive force of bushfires.

  • Seeing the aftermath helps you understand the fury, my heart really goes out to everyone who lived through and sometimes died amongst this trauma.

    – Travis Easton

  • RickGeorge
    RickGeorgeabout 5 years ago

    Exceptional series Travis. Thanks fpr sharing this important work.

  • Thanks Richard, I agree that visual history is important to share, thanks.

    – Travis Easton

  • Tony Middleton
    Tony Middletonabout 5 years ago

    fantastic comparison shots Trav – the story/scenes are pretty similar in parts of the Gippsland fires… :|

  • Hi Tone, yes this story has been repeated far and wide, hope to do a regeneration comparison eventually.

    – Travis Easton

  • solo75
    solo75about 5 years ago

    Sure looks bleak but nature will prevail.

  • Amen

    – Travis Easton

  • Rosalie Dale
    Rosalie Daleabout 5 years ago

    Well documented Travis – a very important statement is made by your shots.

  • One day I hope I can take these shots again after full regeneration, thanks Rosalie.

    – Travis Easton

  • Donovan wilson
    Donovan wilsonabout 5 years ago

    Nice shots Mate and a good on you for getting to the falls its a long way down.

  • Tis a tad steep, almost got squashed when a massive boulder came free when I lent my hand on it on the way past. Certainly got my heart beating, maybe I should take notice of those signs… lol.

    – Travis Easton

  • Wendi Donaldson
    Wendi Donaldsonabout 5 years ago

    Incredible documentation…..thanks for sharing and reminding us.

  • STEPHEN GEORGIOU
    STEPHEN GEORGIOUabout 5 years ago

    Wow trav, you should be a journalist. what a fantastic record for the history books!