2 January 2020

Now you're not to worry but...

bushfire close to Ulladulla


We were slightly concerned when we didn’t hear from our daughter, Sarah, as the New Year dawned in Australia and the UK.  She was camping out in the countryside south of Sydney with Buddy and fiancé, Chris and we knew the phone signal was poor there.  It was a trip that she had planned for weeks ahead and had pre-checked with the remote riverside campsite that the risk of fire was minimal before setting out with their new tent and inflatable boat.
 
Shallow Crossing campsite


It was New Year’s day morning when we finally heard news.  They were holed up in an evacuation centre in Ulladulla after the roads were closed due to the catastrophic bushfires.  After a couple of days camping in the bush Sarah had become nervous as the fires seemed to be spreading rapidly.  They had packed up and decided to return to Sydney early but found the exit roads blocked by fire.  All the motels and guest houses in the ‘safe’ area were full as hundreds of the holiday makers in the area all flocked to the relative safety of the seaside town. 

Sarah, Chris and Buddy spent two nights with hundreds of other evacuees in the Civic Centre at Ulladulla, at times with no power. “There’s a guy here called Rick Stein, apparently he’s a well known chef?”  It wasn’t just holidaymakers, some local residents had been trapped after just going out to do some shopping.  It all happened so quickly. They did not go hungry as local bakers and takeaways donated food to the evacuees.  They were safe but were shocked by what they had experienced. 

On Thursday morning the main highway was re-opened and they joined the long queue of traffic heading north.  Fuel was short as many pumps had no power but luckily they had a full tank of petrol.  Sarah sent me photos of the blackened and burnt countryside as they slowly drove back to Sydney.  It was a shocking and eerie sight.  Seven people had lost their lives in a small settlement close to Ulladulla.  Hundreds of homes have been lost.  I can’t even bear to think of the wild animals and live stock that have perished.

Buddy took it all in his stride

Sarah finally got back to Sydney just after midday on Thursday.  They were lucky because the roads were closed again later that day.  Sarah sent me a message “We’re sat in our usual spot in our local and it’s never felt so good to be back in the city.”


                                                          

27 comments:

  1. How very scary for her, and for you!! I can't even imagine what it's like for the locals. -Jenn

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    1. Apparently it has never been this bad before.

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  2. How frightening. I'm so sorry about the devastation that's occurring, and like you I can hardly bear to think of the poor animals. And the human suffering is, of course, horrible. I'm glad to hear that your daughter and fiancé and Buddy are all okay.

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    1. I just felt so relieved when they finally got back home.

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  3. So scary.How good is the danger behind her.

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  4. Of course Sarah's story must have special resonance for you and Paul as you visited the Sydney region not so long ago. What a shame that Sarah's country break ended the way it did. Pretty shocking. How long will the scorched countryside take to recover?

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    1. If they get some sustained rainfall the vegetation will recover quite quickly. Homes, businesses and the toll to wildlife will take longer to recover.

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    2. Even after rain and new green growth, the tree trunks remain blackened for years to come. There is an eerie silence without the sound of birds and the rustle of wildlife moving through the bush. It is really awful. So glad Sarah is safe.

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  5. I can only imagine how scary that must have been. My cousin went through a similar experience in 2016 in the fires in Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. Everyone had to drive blind through the flames to get out of the town. Many homes were lost and some are still rebuilding. It was nowhere near what they are going through in Australia but it was the biggest forest fire in Alberta history. I'm so glad your daughter and her fiance are safe. The devastation is unbelievable. I follow several blogs in Australia and it seems that no matter where they are they are affected in some way.

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    1. It's almost impossible to predict the direction and speed of the fire.

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  6. How relieved you must be that they've come home. Although sitting in Sydney, people wonder why anyone would continue with their holidays on the south coast when the fire services said to cancel their plans, this fire has come out of virtually nowhere and so fast. It's easily as big now as the one just south of the city where my parents live which has been burning for weeks. This has easily been the most stressful bushfire season in my life.

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  7. It's frightening when it becomes so personal. What a disaster for Oz; it'll take them a long time to recover.

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    1. I think it will be a long time before Sarah goes camping again! It's heartbreaking when you think of all the animals that couldn't escape. Koalas can't move very quickly.

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  8. Glad all ended well - what a worry for you (as well as them of course).

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    1. We never stop worrying about them do we Pat.

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  9. How scary for both them and you. Glad they are safe.

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    1. It was a nightmarish experience for them. The fires moved in on them so quickly.

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  10. So glad to hear that they have returned safely home. An experience they will not forget for a long time. Rick looks very comfy in his little nest on the back seat! The loss of life,and wildlife, is tragic, and I wonder how long it will take the country to recover.
    We have fires here in the summer, although nothing on the scale of those in Oz, thank goodness. Sadly many of them are either started deliberately, or the result of someone's carelessness. It's frightening to see how quickly flames spread on parched ground.

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    1. It always used to worry me a bit in France during a dry summer because we were surrounded by forest.

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    2. Oh no - sorry Buddy, I called you Rick!

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  11. No worries, it happens all the time!

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