Urban Images of an
Townsend Street, Albury, NSW
8:30am, 24 January, 2003
proudly supported by Squadron.com
Highway, NSW, Australia - 23-24 Jan. 2003|
The Australian landscape has been parched by a drought stretching
over several years which is not expected to break for some time yet.
Normally lush pastures are now scorched to a lifeless, straw-like
Bushfires are a seasonal part of Australian life, but this drought
combined with high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds has
been a particular recipe for disaster. And disasters there have
been, even early in the season.
The urban landscape is not immune from the fury of these fires. Last
weekend, more than 500 homes were destroyed on the fringes of
Canberra, our nation's Capital. Four lives were lost. It was a
miracle that there were not more.
New fires have been ranging across the Snowy Mountains and in
northern Victoria over the last week. Firefighters have not been
helped by forecast temperatures in excess of 40° Celsius.
My family had a small taste of the fires in the last few days.
After a busy couple of months we decided to pack up the car and
spend a few days in Albury on the Victorian border, around 550
kilometres south-west of our home in Sydney. After four hours of
travelling, the fire was foretelling its presence with a thin veil
of smoke over the twilight landscape. A shopkeeper told us that this
was the first time in the last three days that they had seen the
The grey veil drew closer as we approached our destination. In the
evening hours, truck lights that would normally dazzle oncoming
traffic were diluted to dim red disks. The thick smoke seemed to
dull all senses except smell as it permeated the car.
Our awakening in Albury was greeted by bridsong and an eerie red
fog. But it was not fog. The fires were close to this big inland
city, to the south and to the east. Locals told us that this was the
worst smoke that they had ever seen in or around the town. We cut
our visit short, checking out and heading home before noon.
Spare a thought for the communities under threat and the tireless
firefighters, both professional and volunteers, as they cope with
the extreme conditions this Australia Day weekend.
Images and Article Copyright © 2003 by
Created Australia Day, 2003
25 January 2003
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