The tiny Blue Mountains village of Bell was one of many towns ravaged by bushfires over the last Australian summer. It was burnt when the Grose Valley bushfire swept through in December, just before Christmas. One resident was lucky to survive with the help of firefighters, and you can read his story here. Below is a photo of the landscape around the village.
This is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which covers just over a million hectares. It shows the evolution of Australia’s unique eucalyptus trees, as well as the plants and animals that coexist with them. How was this unique area impacted by the recent bushfires?
On 26 October, a lightning bolt started a fire near a disused airstrip at Gospers Mountain in the Wollemi National Park. This became the epicentre of the biggest forest fire started from a single ignition point that Australia has ever known. By mid-January, the Gospers Mountain Fire and other major bushfires had joined, and 80 per cent of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area was burnt.
(Source: Heritage Lost and Saved in the Fires by Graham Quint in National Trust (NSW) April – June 2020 Magazine)
It is hard to contemplate devastation on this scale. Some areas were affected more than others, and driving through the area there are patches which seem miraculously untouched. But even amongst the charred landscape there are signs that the recovery has begun with new life emerging from the ashes.
There is an article here on the impact that bushfires have on plants, taking into account the intense fires that destroyed millions of acres across the country in the past summer. It outlines that whilst intense fires can significantly damage and destroy the understorey, the flora of Australia has evolved with fire and responds in different ways. This article is from the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens website; the gardens were impacted by fires and much of the surrounding area was devastated.
Another glimmer of hope in the botanic gardens was the appearance of pink flannel flowers. These exquisite flowers only seem to appear after a bushfire. You can read more about them here and see them up close in their delicate glory.
These new signs of life inspire hope after dark times.
Inspired by Discover Prompts – April writing prompts