…and everywhere else for that matter. Just as the 2017 Easter school holidays began, DELWP decided it was a good time to start preventative burns in Gippsland, amongst other areas. Proper preventative burns have been long overdue, so I hope that this isn’t just a bit of tokenism, but the beginning of a serious attempt to address years of neglected bushfire prevention measures. What’s ironic is that these fires have now created a massive smoke haze across southern Victoria, stretching from Melbourne to at least Wilsons Promontory. Smoke health alerts were issued amongst other warnings and my wife mentioned this to me the other day, but I hadn’t noticed anything locally. It wasn’t until I took our hounds for a run at Mossvale Park early the next morning that it struck me as to how extensive the smoke was across the entire area, as far as you could see.
The smoke was just evident at Mossvale Park, but stood out starkly once out of the park where the trees provide a degree of cover from the smoke. So on the way back, I decided to take some photographs of the landscape covered in smoke, as it’s not something that you see every day and definitely hope not to ever see in a real bushfire situation. As I drove back up the Strzelecki Hwy towards Mirboo North, I made a few stops here and there along the way to photograph some of the valleys and hills shrouded in smoke. The smoke was very palpable and rolled along like a mist, but with the obvious smell. One of the reasons why the smoke was behaving like this was was apparently due to a high pressure trough and no wind, so the smoke just rolled slowly southwards from where the fires were burning.
Now from the DELWP map, the majority of the fires are in the western Gippsland area, in one of the most fire prone locations as you’d expect. But the number of burn-off locations represented in the map is surprising and, given that we are still experiencing warm weather, it’s hoped that these fires can be kept under control. It’s not the first time that things have gone amiss and many Mirboo North and surrounds residents will remember recent events that almost threatened the township and certainly burnt a lot of unintended forest and farm property.
So when I got home, I downloaded the photographs I’d taken and decided to do a loop around the area and see what else I could get. I started by travelling towards Boolarra along Baromi Road and then went down Old Darlimurla Road, had a look around the area and then headed back to the Strzelecki Hwy. While the smoke was very evident along this stretch, the open areas left from last year’s harvests were now replete with new growth and I would have needed to stand on my 4WD’s roof to get shots over the tree tops. So from the Strzelecki Hwy I went onto Samson Rd and followed that until I reached the Old Thorpdale Road, which I took back towards Mirboo North and shortly after took the Dickies Hill Road for some elevated shots over Mirboo North.
It looks like this burning off is going to go on right across the Easter break, so I hope that the smoke and burning off doesn’t impact on the Easter holiday crowds, as much of it is happening where many go camping during Easter. And, as Anzac Day is the following week, many will likely take time off in-between to extend the Easter break into a longer one. I guess the time is never right for these things and, as I said at the beginning, I hope that this is more than just a token effort to make it look like something is being done to address the current hazardous state of our forests and minimise the likelihood of severe bushfires. Also, for a bit of irony, shortly after writing this story, we had massive rains throughout Gippsland with flood warnings et al, but then school resumed, the weather improved and smoke rolled over the water once more.
And here’s something apropos: