The Weekend The World Will Never Forget
Last Saturday, the pre-dawn heat was so oppressive that I wondered if we would get a colourful sunrise. There were still scattered clouds around from the previous night, holding false promise of rain. They had delivered no moisture, not a drop for this parched land.
For about five or six minutes, the sky was a riot of colour just before the sun broke free of the horizon. As I worked to get the best views of the clouds, I could not help thinking how much they looked like flames on high. The fire danger was high, with Victoria baking in the third straight day of 43-plus Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) temperatures.
After I shot the first two images in this sequence, I noticed a circular series of puffs of pink cloud behind me in the west, like ack-ack bursts that had been Photoshopped on a cartoon strip. The beauty came and went quickly.
It was to be the hottest day ever recorded in Melbourne, with the mercury topping out at 46.4 Celsius in the city proper. And it was a day that would go down in history for more than one reason.
The fires started after lunchtime, taking hold quicker than fire crews could cope with them. Not only were they more ferocious than anything our firefighters had seen before, they travelled infinitely quicker, fanned by a roaring gale-force northerly wind.
The media now refers to that cataclysmic day as Black Saturday.
These next shots (below) were taken the following evening, as the nation struggled to cope with the scale of destruction and human loss. Just to put it in context, the death toll from the fires is set to rise higher than the overall toll from the recent Mumbai terror attacks.
The dusk colours cloaked the evening sky for only a few minutes, bold brush strokes across the landscape. The weather was noticeably cooler and the breeze had swung round to the south, but the state was still ringed by blazes.
For a state struck by fear and sorrow, there was some fleeting comfort in Nature's farewell to the weekend no one will ever be able to put out of their memory.
To find out why there is no sound after a bushfire has swept through, check out the photos and explanation at my earlier post D Is For Desolation.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.