…since I have blogged. To be perfectly honest, with the drought killing my garden, there hasn’t been much to report home about.
But today we took a drive up through Kinglake and Flowerdale for the first time since Black Saturday. And to use a much used phrase, nothing can prepare you for it. You would think after all this time, there would be a bit more greenery, but there’s not. Surprisingly though every little spot of green is a pure marvel – greener than any green you have ever seen. It’s not until you drive out the other side before you realise that the green is still washed out, drought riddled and not the colour of Ireland at all.
It’s hard to describe that first sight of burning on the mountain you have always known, you see it from a distance long before you see the scarred bits. The first sight is through trees and you aren’t quite sure if you saw it or not – the skeletons of trees. Then as you drive out of Whittlesea, the first signs become apparent, I didn’t realise how close it actually got to the town. Your breath catches and your eyes sting as the tears are held back. There is no relief as you climb up into the mountain, every tree is burnt, there is not enough cover. Normally the trees hug you close and you feel sheltered, not today!
Today I saw right through the trees to parts of the mountain I never knew existed, it was like peering into a persons soul and seeing all the secrets they never wanted revealed. There is a long stretch of the road that winds through, and then the houses appear. I am surprised to see them standing, some have rows of burnt trees so close that you wonder if a God does exist and why he chose to save this house and not the one next to it? Truly there is nothing sadder than a lone chimney, standing nude on the hill, no longer protected by its house.
We drove through Kinglake, we saw the houses missing, we saw the shops missing, we saw a lone blanket on the side of the road and we saw the occasional puddle of metal that was once part of a car. But what we were most eager to see was Flowerdale, you see, we very nearly wound up living there a few years back. As were drove in, the shape of the hills felt right, but nothing was where it should be. So many of the familiar houses were gone. Then we realised that the empty spot we were staring at was the remains of one of the houses we inspected. Which meant that on the other side of the road was the farm we were outbid on. What we saw was the remains of a shed – that was it. It is very humbling to know that we escaped death and we didn’t even know it. I am so thankful to know that the people who did buy the farm were part time farmers, and they would probably not have been there on the day.
Actually, there is something sadder than the lone chimneys, and that is the dents in the safety barriers. Three months on and the roads are cleared of all the horrors that were presented to us on the news, in the papers, on YouTube. But nothing can hide the fact that these dents were caused by trees, great big trees that fell. Great big trees that fell and then prevented people from fleeing the mountain. Each one of these dents represents people who lost their lives. And seeing them over and over again does not ease the pain, it just makes it more obvious just how horrific it was up the mountain on Black Saturday.