Bushfire Update

G’day everyone,

Sorry I haven’t had much time for blogging lately; getting the property and my business back to normal has occupied all of my calendar for the last couple of months. Farmerbraun asked me earlier today to put up some photos showing how the bush around my place has recovered. So following is a small selection.

First here are a couple of before-and-after shots. What’s remarkable is that eucalypt forests actually need periodic fires in order to regenerate naturally. In the case of gum trees themselves, the extreme heat caused by the combustion of eucalyptus oil releases the seed pods, which then go into overdrive.

Ozboy estate, after the fires

Bushfire aftermath, 11 January

Same place, 20 April

Same place, 20 April

However, most of the green ground cover you can see here is bracken fern and sedge grass, whose seeds lie far enough underground to escape the carnage. With the reduced canopy cover caused by the fires, they propagate like mad.

Containment line, Ozboy estate

Containment line, 11 January


Same place, 20 April

As far as the gum trees themselves, green regrowth commences on the trunk and lower, thicker branches.


IMAG0013A melted section of poly agpipe meant my bottom dam was largely emptied:

IMAG0012IMAG0011But the top dam, which is designed to overflow naturally, is in pretty good order.

IMAG0014Remember the Skyscraper? Hollowed out at the base by rot and a previous fire, it was badly damaged and had to go.

The Skyscraper - the tallest tree on my property (this pic does no justice, it is all of 45 metres tall) - will be the next one to come downMy own chainsaw only has a 20” bar—not nearly enough for this job. So I brought along a mate from the village to do the honours (ignore the date at the bottom, it was shot with Oz Jr’s camera).

The amazing thing with gum trees generally is their resistance to fire. As this closeup shows, hot as the fire was (over 1500°C/2732°F), with the sound part of the trunk, the flames didn’t even penetrate the whole thickness of the bark:

IMAG0015One of the more problematic things is with the trees that did burn through, they were consumed so completely that even their root systems have gone, leaving behind large tunnel systems in the sandy soil that extend many metres from the tree itself, can collapse underfoot and are quite treacherous. I’ve ordered my son not to go exploring without me.

IMAG0016So that’s where I’m up to. Though I’ve lived through many bushfires in the past, the transformation and recovery this time has been far quicker than anything I’ve ever experienced. Once again, Mother Nature has had the last word.

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36 Responses to Bushfire Update

  1. Amanda says:

    Wow. SO great to see the green back! Green, any green! Scary about those pits. We have sinkholes in Florida (sandy soil, again) and people do get sucked down in them, as recently.

    Great to see the regeneration beginning and taking off like… wildfire.

  2. grumpydenier says:

    Good to see things are getting back to normal (whatever that is in your part of the world). Let’s hope the Gillard blaze doesn’t stage a similar one.

  3. Good upbeat blog. Thanks for taking the time Ozboy.

  4. rogercuul says:

    Isn’t nature wonderful. A lot of people could learn to leave things to mother nature.
    I hope that life is returning to something like normal for you all.

  5. meltemian says:

    Thanks for the update, how are things progressing with the house?
    Those trees are amazing, shoots erupting from the trunks like that!

    House is getting there thanks Mel; we had the painters in on Thursday to fix up the smoke damage to the ceilings. I’m using part of the insurance payout to build a covered outdoor entertainment area, with a barbie and brick wood-fired pizza oven. In a few weeks I’m getting another mate in who owns an alaskan mill, and I’ll be turning the Skyscraper into outdoor furniture and a corner bar. I’ll probably never cook indoors again! Oz

  6. Amanda says:

    Oz: Show-off! :^o

    I don’t know about that Amanda – you can judge when I post photos of my carpentry skills (or lack thereof) – Oz

  7. Kitler says:

    I need to ask do the Greens stop you from having a firebreak zone around your houses, while trees are pretty, in your climate they are merely a source of fuel in summer. Did anyone have their property destroyed, lives killed or people injured because of stupid laws written by people who live in cities?

    No-one killed this January, thank God (well, one older volunteer firey had a heart attack and died) – but over a hundred and eighty souls lost in the Black Saturday fires of 2009. Plenty of people lost their homes this year, though, including many of our friends.

    You’ve touched on a sore point down here, Kitler: the fire chiefs were spitting chips after the January blaze, and stated publicly and explicitly that if the Greens-controlled state government had not prevented them doing the hazard reduction burns they had planned for last winter, not a single property would have been lost. The Greens have the bravery of the fireys (and Justice Bernard Teague) to thank that they have no blood on their hands this time round – Oz

  8. Kitler says:

    Also it’s only real pizza if you make it yourself and that includes the dough. The toppings are entirely optional depending on local taste so a meat lovers with kangeroo may be on the menu.

    Couldn’t agree more: dough and tomato sauce. I may down the track have a go at making my own mozzarella, but that really would be showing off :mrgreen:

    Never tried kangaroo on a pizza – generally any meat you add has to be melt-in-the-mouth, and roo is a bit chewy, except maybe if you slice it really thin – Oz

  9. Kitler says:

    Well making your own cheese maybe asking a bit much because it’s harder than it looks so buying your own locally made ingredients works. Not many people make their own pepperoni after all.

    The trick is in sourcing unpasteurized milk, which the state won’t permit to be sold – all for our own benefit, of course. Doesn’t stop me round these parts, though – Oz 😉

  10. Amanda says:

    Oz: *I* understood that the trick to great mozzarella was getting your own buffalo herd for the milk. The bonus: if there’s ever another fire, they can stamp it out!

    Ha, ha. Well, not exactly. Here’s a pretty good easy recipe, if any of you ever want to try it for yourselves. Note though you need to use a stainless steel pot and unchlorinated (i.e., not town) water.

    Folks down this way are a pretty resourceful lot, if not spectacularly wealthy. So they make a lot of things for themselves rather than driving into town and buying them. The Bream Creek Show, for example, is Australia’s oldest continuously-running country fair, and has in its Hall of Industries competitions for making all kinds of stuff – nearly three hundred different categories, in fact. Modesty forbids me from telling you which first prize I won this year, though I had some stiff competition – Oz

  11. Amanda says:

    Oh, go on — tell us! Was it beer?

    Ssshhhh! Oz 😉

  12. Luton Ian says:

    Good to get word that you’re getting the place back together.

    Let’s hope you don’t get a cold winter – with all the stores of starches those plants will have used putting the new growth up, a long or hard winter (we had almost continuous snow cover from Christmas up until about 2 weeks back!) will have them dead,

    that’s how I kill gorse – burn it in the autumn, it doesn’t burn as cleanly in the autumn as it does in a dry March, but it doesn’t put new shoots up either. That’s backed up by wintering either the gimmer lambs from the hill, or the fattening lambs where there’s gorse, they seem to have a passion for stripping the bark off it.

    What options are open and acceptable to you for fire breaks around the house? potato fields? pigs (lots of!)? dwarf goats? prickly pears?

    It looks from your photos that you’re on sandstone? so lakes would be out of the question?

    Let me guess – you strike me as someone who wouldn’t tolerate the sort of rat population needed for making cider – so I’m guessing first prize at the show was for beer?

    On the subject of pigs, I’m experimenting with a few on bracken – it doesn’t take them much rooting for them to find a day’s worth of big starchy bracken roots to munch, they’ve also found and eaten all of the thistles – prickles and all.

    I spent a few hours with them yesterday, and saw the first snake of the season in there. I’m not sure what pigs do with snakes, I have visions of them sucking the snake up like spaghetti.

    Does Tas have the same sorts of snakes as the rest of Oz (ie much more poisonous and aggressive than the female adder I saw yesterday)?

    The house here has no fire break, but when we build the new one at the top of the hill it’ll be fifty metres all round.

    I’ve just about cleared the rats out from around here; in the end, no number of traps were going to work, and I had to resort to industrial-grade poison. I did enter a cider in the Show this year, among other things, but yes, the first prize was for my English-style ale.

    We have three types of snakes here in Tassie: the whip snake, whose teeth can’t even break human skin; copperheads and tiger snakes. Tigers are, I believe, the sixth most venomous snake in the world, and they have an unfortunate liking for the bushes outside my kitchen. They’re pretty timid creatures though, are petrified of humans and get out of their way; their only interest is in rabbits, frogs and rodents – Oz

  13. Luton Ian says:


    weren’t you talking about looking for somewhere near to Atlanta?

    more cryptids than you can shake a shitty stick at, and one male that’s about twelve feet tall


  14. Luton Ian says:

    What attracts your rats?
    (rhetorical question, – best not to share the answer)

    we get a scattered population – because the game keepers have all the stoats and weasels killed, but it takes something like sheep troughs, a shed full of straw or a bird feeder to get a concentration of the buggers.

    I have the buildings here free from actual feed and well baited with industrial strength stuff (blue wax cubes) and once in a while it goes (I usually wait a few days before replacing it, otherwize they just stash it rather than eat it) and satisfying piles of blue rat crap appear some where, followed by shivering poorly looking rodents – which get dispatched and put into the wood burner.

    When the weather was bad, I got a load of bunnies too, which had come into the buildings looking for food – we’re genuinly plagued with bunnies – father Ted style. Bishop Brennan would hate it.

    Well, I keep chook feed up in the back shed – I use a 50-50 blend of high-protein pellets and seed mix. The rats can’t get at it but that doesn’t stop them trying. Also, the smell of brewing attracts them like no-one’s business. I keep a large store of tinned and frozen food up there as well, but that has no smell of course.

    After the fire, we got a whole colony of the bastards up in our roof, and it took me a month of trapping before I gave up and poisoned the lot of them. We are hoping to get an organic certification before the end of the year and traces of that stuff doesn’t exactly help our cause – Oz

  15. Luton Ian says:

    Rats in the loft

    they have a tradition of clog dancing

    Oh gawd, tell us about it – Oz 😡

  16. Luton Ian says:

    completely OT and feel free to ignore or delete.
    Back in the 70s and 80s, when christmas shopping in Britain consisted of a series of bomb scares and evacuations – and fast food outlets in the US Boston reputedly had collecting jars for Noraid…

    (better add that I now disparage the British state for its continued presence on that island, disparage the shinners and “loyalists” (didn’t meet many “loyalists”) for their advocacy of violence and disparage the united state for its continuing murder of innocents, and current police state at home – so well displayed in Boston in the last week – in summary I’m into the NAP, and don’t believe in two wrongs making anything right)

    An Irish Quaker guy I got quite friendly with (he’ll be about 50 years old now) went to a Quaker boarding school in Britain, he said he got the crap kicked out of him by army officers brats and other conservative type kids, any time a bomb went off or a squaddie got shot.

    What was the atmosphere like in Oz at that time?

    We knew about it at the time, though it was like news from another world. When I eventually went to Ireland myself about twenty years ago, I was sitting one day in a pub in a protestant quarter of the North, talking to a local about “the troubles”. “Does it matter to you whether I’m Catholic or Protestant?”, I asked him. Without skipping a beat, he replied plainly, “you’re neither. You’re Australian”.

    Which, for me, really sums it up. It’s a tribal, and fundamentally local thing. I could tell you about the time I was kidnapped in Belfast – but that’s another story – Oz 😉

  17. Amanda says:

    Oz: I was telling Mr A about the DIY culture you’ve described, and Mr A. thinks that Tasmanian-crafted English-style ale would sell very well over on these thirsty shores….

    Some years ago I looked at the numbers regarding setting up a micro-brewery down here. I’ve certainly got the room, and no shortage of willing helpers (and volunteer tasters). What I came up with was, I’d be working like a trojan for up to five years, following which, if it was successful, it’d be a license to print money. Only, at my age I don’t have five years to sink into a business like that when I’m not passionate about it. As a hobby, brewing’s a joy. Turned into a way of making a living would suck all the joy out of it for me. I’ve been down that road already with music – Oz

  18. Amanda says:

    Eh? Kidnapped?!

    Long story. The best sort (no-one got hurt). Another day, maybe – Oz

  19. Amanda says:

    Oz: regarding the first post: I know EXACTLY what you mean. And regarding the second: your heart must have special protection against failure/attack!

    Naah – my brain had been fortified beforehand, in the very best Irish manner – Oz

  20. farmerbraun says:

    ” Turned into a way of making a living would suck all the joy out of it for me. I’ve been down that road already with music –”


    Yeah, you and me both mate – Oz

  21. farmerbraun says:

    Yes, the muses don’t take kindly to being asked to play second fiddle 🙂

    The muses have been replaced by the missus – Oz 😮

  22. farmerbraunf says:

    Careful there Oz ; you are already an endangered species!

    “No, the “average Australian” is evidently a 37-year-old woman, married with two children, who lives in a three-bedroom house in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. Its average Australian is a wholly different character from the imagined Australian.”

  23. farmerbraun says:

    Careful there Oz;you are already an endangered species!

    “No, the “average Australian” is evidently a 37-year-old woman, married with two children, who lives in a three-bedroom house in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. Its average Australian is a wholly different character from the imagined Australian.”

    It depends largely on whereabouts you are. There are suburbs of Sydney in which a white face is now a rarity. Down my way, the reverse is true – Oz

  24. farmerbraun says:

    Wicked! Sorry I’m unable to reciprocate – Oz

  25. meltemian says:

    Just for Oz’ and farmerbraun.

  26. Luton Ian says:

    Just have to share this example of prudishness from Kiwi land

    Quite how “society” can be harmed if no individual within that society was harmed, and on what basis (other than in some jumped up tw@t’s prudish opinion) that harm can be determined to have taken place, I do not know.

    Clearly no human was in any way injured in the making of animations of supernatural beings – would it have been different if it were sheep rather than pixies?

    Is kiwi land turning into the twenty first century version of Dev’s Ireland, where more books were banned each year than in Stalin’s USSR, in the name of morality, but where it was considered entirely moral to institutionalize and enslave unmarried mums by the tens of thousand?

    I intended to post a link to an image of “Fru T. Bunn Master Baker and his gingerbread sex dolls” from the Viz comic. The google search produced one hell of a rabbit hole, with deviant art forums and “forbidden fruit dating” sites… My personal choice not to go those places – I’m prudish enough without it being imposed. I’ll stick with the (over the top) puppet sex scene from “Team America”.

    I’ll have to do a thread about that one some time. There’s no evidence (of which I’m aware, anyway) that shows a causative link (as opposed to a mere correlation) between viewing smutty drawings and the perpetration of child abuse. Nor is any such evidence likely to emerge. So the claims of the anti-porn activist can be dismissed.

    But… if you allow such drawings to be distributed without hindrance, it marks a significant loss of state control. Technology has advanced to the point where there is a continuum of artwork from the obviously hand-drawn, to life-like animation, to that which is indistinguishable from actual photography. Is it meaningful (never mind verifiable) to claim “no child was harmed or used in the production of these images”?

    This is the dilemma the state faces: the only recourse it understands is to take a heavy-handed approach, and act as thought police. Maybe we will even end up going back to the Victorian practice of decently shrouding the legs of grand pianos, for fear the sight of them will unleash the beast in all of us. In an age of ubiquitous online porn, it does make you wonder – Oz

  27. Luton Ian says:

    Re: typical Aussie,

    I got chatting to a guy a few months back who operates a coach distributing “assylum seekers” around Britain, for the .gov

    He said they’d taken one load to Middlesborough, and they’d refused to get off the bus. That is one little island of socialist dysfunctionality which will likely remain all white for the foreseeable future.

  28. meltemian says:

    Sorry Oz, I KNOW I posted a Kevin Johnson song above but it seems to have gone to a VPN link!
    Please delete it, it’s doing nothing.

  29. meltemian says:

    As you were……..it’s back. Must be my computer messing about.
    I’ve just cleaned out a load of rubbish so it’s probably having a panic attack.

    No problem Mel – always liked KJ’s style, he’s a country boy from Rockhampton in Queensland – Oz

  30. Kitler says:

    I suggest Ozboy do a search on the term “piano porn” it came up with 13,200,000 links. I suppose there is something for everyone out there.

    Just did. Bloody hell – Oz

  31. Luton Ian says:

    I think there may be a mixed metaphor or three in there, but stii, wow…
    possible strong language (there certainly was in the next track, it’s called “stick it out”)

    L. Ron Hoover of the first church of applientology advising on where to find Kitchen appliance prawn.

    I’m off to search for some mormon midget prawn

  32. Luton Ian says:

    Ok, I don’t think she’s a Mormon, and she was no midget. I’d almost forgottenabout this, it’s an actual anti censorship song.

    I was working in London when this was recorded, and remember seeing the fliers for the gig everywhere. I only began listening to them years later. She must be getting towards her sixtieth by now – how time flies.

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