One of the the areas that was most dramatically and severely hit by the Ferbruary 2009 bush fires in Victoria, was the area around Kinglake in the Yarra Valley.
When we learned that, especially by Australian standards, Kinglake is practically on our doorstep here, we decided to take on the advise in the leaflets we picked up in the Healesville Tourist Information to go there and spend some money to contribute the tiniest bit to the hundreds of millions of dollars that are needed to rebuild the infrastructure and National Parks going up in flames.
Although we learned from the leaflets that the community have been working its ass off to have the worst marks removed, we did prepare ourselves for hills filled by blackened stumps with just the occasional puff of green bushes and meter-high treelets in between.
Instead, we found the best – in our opinion, anyway – example of how incredibly flexible nature really is. We’ve seen David Attenborough in The Private Life Of Plants walking around a freshly-turned-to-ashes savanne or something, trying to convince the viewers that there is hardly something more cleansing for nature than a good bush fire – presumed that the fire was caused by nature itself, and not by some stupid kids playing with matches, but we could hardly believe him there.
Seeing the lushious gum-and-fern forests around Kinglake we realised that the old chap, of course, was right. In fact, we haven’t seen such a vast greenness around us since we were riding through the cloudforesty landscape around Sapa, Vietnam. And you certainly won’t find it anywhere in The Netherlands!
Of course, there were impressive charcoaled stumps in Dali-like shapes, and there still was a faint smell of burnt wood in the air, and nearly all the buildings were brand new, but from just nature you surely couldn’t have told that just 4 years ago practically the whole area burnt down in the fires that took more than a week to extinguish.
And the best thing that the Kinglake gum-forests did for us, was expose us to a real, wild wallaby, so stunned by our sheer gall of tramping into its habitat with two alarm-systems that we call our offspring, in our company, that it took him at least 4 seconds to realise that we were groping for our cameras, and with a loud indignant sniff hopped off into the thick undergrowth, never to be seen again by us. It was the only wild marsupial exposure for us so far, so we cherish it as if we’d had discovered real gold!
Location:Kinglake, Victoria, Australia