Saturday, June 15, 2024

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HomeVolume 28Fire paints the country black

Fire paints the country black


Centralia’s topography is an instant hit on the eye favoured by its rich colour spectrum and pellucidity. So intoxicating is it that we easily overlook fundamental changes we’ve introduced. Buffel grass for instance.

Bushfire intensity has magnified its rapid advance. Environmentally-concerned citizens and research scientists have called in vain for more government funding to implement effective control of invasive species.

Aboriginals have voiced concerns at the loss of totemic species, sacred sites and native plants due to buffel.

The threat to  bio-diversity was sheeted home in 2019 when virtually uncontrollable fires devastated 661 square kilometres of the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park just outside Alice Springs.

Despite controlled winter burn-offs smaller fires happen around town. Good rains promote buffel. Our prolonged dry spells present the perfect primer.

The title came from three year-old daughter, Anjou, as we drove through nearby hills after a bushfires had scarred the country. She’d be strapped up back in her capsule as we took to the dirt tracks after lunch. Nap time.

The gentle rocking was guaranteed to lull her to sleep. Before that she’d managed with a last murmur: “Daddy, fire paints the country black.” Loved that poetry issuing from her innocent mind.

To amplify the observation, a few weeks later I placed her in a similar setting, booted up and clasping her Snoopy dog. Our ever vigilant Jack Russell accompanies her. Looking on, without sharing her anxiety, is barefooted Kaston Hayes.


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