Friday, February 13, 2009

Gone With The Wind

The Weekend The World Will Never Forget

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


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.

118 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Beautiful skies. Reminds me of some of the shots Lana takes around here.

Cuckoo said...

Beautiful sky shots with horrible story.

~Virginia~ said...

hard to believe such pretty pictures come from such tragic circumstances. take care out there!

Barbaloot said...

Again---gorgeous photos. But I'm sorry for the reason they are possible. We've been hearing news stories about this over here...I hope things get better soon.

Brother Tobias said...

Our forebears saw battles and portents in skies like those. For you they must have seemed like a mirror of the land below.

Artist Unplugged said...

Sad how the horrible scene on the ground creates such beauty in the skies. Thank you for sharing.

Deb said...

You can see the warmth in the pictures. Beautiful yet tragic.

katherine. said...

nature can give beauty in devastation. Even the few story clips we see here in California it is heartbreaking...

George said...

The sky photos are absolutely beautiful, but it does look as if the sky is on fire as well as the land below. I hope the fires cease but the beautiful skies remain.

squawmama said...

Your pictures and story were wonderful, sadly though I am not happy with what I am hearing about the fires... I pray that you are ok and doing well... My prayers are with your country...

(((HUGS& KISSES)))
Donna

Lisa Wilson said...

Beautiful photos, and also very sad. Congratulations on making today's Blogs of Note!

Nessa said...

Wow, great shots but it does look like the world is one fire. Be safe.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

David, while that sky is a glorious color, we're concerned for your safety! Hope all is well...

Sheila

imac said...

Great shots David, Fantastic reporting Post, on this dreadful time that Australia had to suffer.

Pop and see my post - think you will like.

Rottlady of the Ozarks said...

It's just so sad about all that has been lost to these fires. Your pictures are very beautiful.

Tessa said...

Beautiful...apocalyptic.

Tracie said...

well would ya look at you?? blog-worthy indeed!! CONGRATS!! :D

many blessings,
Tracie

another surprise said...

It's fantastic.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I was going to say that to you about yesterdays post, the last few images reminded me of GWTW and baz's Australia, the intro's homage shots...
stunningly beautiful for such angry and terrifying chaos.

Merisi said...

Nature's beauty
nature's fury!
There by the grace of God we go,
again and again.

David,
could it be that you were listed as "Blog of Note" today? It seemed to me I saw "Authorblog" on the dashboard ticker.

Laura said...

Beautiful skies, it's such a shame there is such a painful story behind all this. I really hope all is well. xx

Concord Carpenter said...

Very interesting blog. congrats on blog of note.

spacedlaw said...

Wow, there are all so dramatic...

RuneE said...

I imagine a hell for everyone concerned, but a little consolation for a photographer in the midst of it all.

You have my total support (I have been rather limited in my situation lately, so I have had no opportunity for visiting).

GreenJello said...

Your photos go to show that there is beauty in everything, even destruction. It's up to those of us staying around to find it.

jinksy said...

In these pictures the mind/camera can't tell the difference between fire and sunlight, obviously - no wonder ancient man thought they were synonymous.

RP said...

Nice photographs.
Congrats on being the blog of the note.

Regards,
RP

Oberon said...

.....i invite you to join globalove think tank.

www.globalovethinktank.blogspot.com

ArneA said...

The horrifying situation on the ground is not shown in these photos.
Good you are though most of it for this time

Maggie May said...

Tragic stories make beautiful pictures.... unfortunately.
Hope the end of it all is just round the corner.

Word verification today was VERSES! Should have answered in verse.....!

Guy D said...

Magnificent colors these are all outstanding. Some of these shots remind me of my second skywatch pic this week, same colors.

Have a great weekend!
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Pearl Maple said...

Thank you for sharing your photos with sky watch friday and your vision of Victoria over the weekend.

All very sad and very true when you say people will never forget, was in Melb for the dust storm and Ash Wed in the 80s.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Beautiful photos, such a sad story. It's hard to comprehend.

Vó que vale! said...

David, lindas fotos! Look my blog.
I loved your colors.SP Brasil
voquevale.blogspot.com

the eternal worrier said...

Congrats. Very, very well deserved.

Braja said...

Amazing photos. David I won't be reading your D is for Desolation post...don't want to sound melodramatic, but I got a lump in my throat reading the one sentence about it in this post.....I don't know if I could take a whole post on it...I know that eerie silence and it's heartbreaking sometimes....

Chuck Pefley said...

My thoughts are with all of you experiencing this disaster. Isn't it amazing how so much beauty can come from something so horrible?

Sylvia K said...

I agree with Virginia -- hard to believe so much beauty can come from such tragic circumstances. I do feel so much pain for your country and it's people who have suffered so much! Since I began blogging I have developed such wonderful friendships with so many in Australia -- as a result it's like having family there. Your photos, David, are absolutely gorgeous as always. Thank you!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

beautiful - as always

CONGRATS on Blogs of Note!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Beautiful pictures.

Horrible, horrible situation. Best wishes to anyone who needs them.

Busy Bee Suz said...

So horrible...I am sure it looks just unreal in person also.

imbeingheldhostage said...

David, those first photos are beautiful, but now knowing what would come after a "fire" sky like that!

Gorgeous pictures, poignant tale they tell.
and no, I have never blogged about my fire. I go for whiny posts you know.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Beautiful photography!!!! Tragic Circumstances! Congratulations on being a Blog of Note! I love the concept of your blog!!! Just terrific!Have enjoyed scrolling through your cyber-pages :-)

Young Traveler said...

Great blog! Really enjoyed stumbling upon you.

Jessie

Shannon! said...

I hope you and your family will be okay. I was in a similar situation a few months ago with all the brushfires in California, a lot of close friends lost their homes but fortunately mine was safe...hope yours will be too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such beautiful photos. The words tragically beautiful comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos, thanks.

VP said...

Beautiful skies as ever David!

Congratulations on your Blogger Blog of Note kudos today - very well deserved :)

TheWritersPorch said...

David, the pics are so AWESOME and yes they do remind me of the scenes of Atlanta burning in GWTW !
Good choice of title!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Amazing photos, but terrifically sad. I hope the fires are completely contained now. Such a tragedy.
Cheryl

Helena said...

Beautiful and frightening photos at the same time. I've been following the news from Australia in our newspapers. They break my heart and hope that the fires will be extinguished soon.

Manz said...

More amazing images.

I just checked online and it appears that there are still some fires ablaze! It's been raining here (1hr north Sydney) for the last 24hrs. I'm hoping you get some your way very soon. I've tried to contact a friend who lives in Sassafras - looking at the fire map, they have 3 fires around them. One of which is still active. I'm sure they're OK, just caugth in the chaos. (touch wood).

Have you ever been a photo journalist? Or have the 2 never come together?

And thanks for dropping by the GritFX blog. I'll be letting readers know to visit here for more fire updates.

J Bar said...

Brilliant photos but tragic circumstances for so many people.

The Whispering Poppies said...

Thank you for this important post, David. Your photography as always is stunning.

Congrats on being Blogger's Blog of Note! You are so deserving of it!

Beachy (no longer at Beachyscapecodcupboard, but still the same Beachy!) =)

Kat said...

The destruction is just unimaginable. My prayers for you, your family, friends and fellow Aussies.

Those sky shots are breathtaking. Amazing the colors that nature produces.

CrazyCath said...

Beautiful. Poignant. I felt the heat from the pictures.

Rune said...

Beautiful shots, but also very,very sad.

Olga said...

The photos are stunning! The heat is unbearable. I hope everyone gets a relief soon.

willow said...

David!! Congratulations on being chosen BLOG of NOTE, my friend!! Be prepared for a storm of visitors to your witty blog. :^)

Jerome said...

Excellent photos clearly hinting on the message of death, destruction and desolation. Thanks for presenting these photos with feelings.

Please keep up the good work!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Red sky and red ground. What tradedy and spooky, although stunning skies.

I've been thinking of all my Aussie friends, wishing I could do something to help, like offer up my home or some clothing or feed a meal. Hang in there. And thanks for documenting your ow experiences and sharing them with us.

~Lisa
New Mexico, USA

Rocky Mountain Horses / Van Bert Farms, LLC said...

Thank you for sharing. A beautiful way to commit to our minds such a tragedy.

Mean Mom said...

The photos are amazing, but the events which led to such stunning scenes are tragic. I am so sorry about the devastation and lives lost.

Cori said...

Oh, what breath taking clouds. And a heartbreaking story.

Babooshka said...

Beauty and tragedy always seem entwined

Paige V. Baggett said...

Such a contradiction of emotions overwhelm me as I view the beauty and warmth and read the tale of destruction. Profound Post!

sweetmama.heather said...

I love the photos you posted, it's always shocking what beauty can be found in such atrocity.

Annie said...

Raining finally in Brisbane...trying to send some your way, David.

Annie

Debor said...

Breathtaking photos - fire in the sky keeps running through my head. I am so sorry for all the loss and devastation from the fires.

Natalie said...

Exquisite photography.
Blog of note is certainly a fitting title for what you do here, David. Well done! :D

Denton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack and Joann said...

Thanks for posting these informative pics with commentary. Peace.

Denton said...

Beautiful photography!

Patricia said...

Very beautiful photos!! they are so awesome, I love the colors!
Thanks for sharing them
have a happy weekend!
My blog

Janie said...

The sky was so beautiful before disaster struck. What a tragic day. I hope cooler weather will show up soon, and maybe some much-needed rain.
Stay safe.

SRG said...

nice stuff

Writer said...

Your country is in my prayers. I loved your pictures and congrats on being a blog of note!

napaboaniya said...

The clouds looks beautiful with the bright shade of orange looking like flames.
However, with the kind of Aussie summer heat I can imagine how warm that is!!
Happy Weekend David! :)

FREE Music Download said...

For me the sky looks terrible.

Gajendra Thakur said...

great

Philip Brightmore said...

how can there possibly be 80 comments on this blog about clouds? you guys have no idea how serious some people are about clouds. Mega-fucking serious.

tasteyourmaker.blogspot.com

karenraye said...

Your photos are beautiful. It is so sad to hear of all of the destruction tat came with these sights.

Girl with Uncertanties said...

You have some awesome photos. I love photography; it can be a lot of fun. Keep up the good work.

Max-e said...

Such beautiful pictures, but against such a tragic backdrop. We saw some of the footage of the fires and the devastation on TV. It was really awful and heartbreaking.

On another note I also want to congratulate you on be chosen as a blog on note David - you are a worthy recipient. Prepare for the flood :)

Swarna said...

Feel so depressed as the horror story continues to unfold everyday...

introspection said...

No surprises that you feature as 'blog of Note'. The photography is mind blowing. Could these flame colored skies be the prophecy of the onset of a burning disaster that followed soon after..?

I am from India (Poona) and so glad to find your blog. Will follow be following your blogs. I will be visiting the rest of your write ups soon, and will try and get a copy of 'vegemite vindaloo'.

Hope the fires cool down soon. aamen.
my blog: aashyana.blogspot.com

Thanks.

Daisy said...

Sending my thoughts and prayers for the many people who have lost loved ones or homes in this disaster.

Banco de Imágenes Gratuitas said...

CONGRATULATIONS,

Google loves you.

Regards,
José Luis Ávila Herrera

Pizza said...

I also live in Victora, the closest fire was about 7 km away from where we live so we were lucky. Did you hear about Marysville? I went there just 2 weeks before it happened. I once went to a camp there, and from what I have heard that is all gone too.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

These pictures are just amazing. Your prose too is so evocative of the horror your country is experiencing right now. I was so impressed by the beauty of Australia when I was on assignment there and to know people are losing their lives, homes and history because of arson makes my heart bleed with sorrow. It is a very sad time for you all and I know many people in the UK are so very sorry for the losses you all bear.

It almost seems trite to say thank you for the POTD again in such circumstances but thank you anyway.

tito s.k said...

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Lorna said...

These are beautifully taken shots of a great tragedy.
~Lorna

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

I feel so sad for Australia. What a devastating loss. I love that you are able to find beauty in such times, however. Stay safe, friend.

Little Miss Scatterbrain said...

the sky was a lot more orange and pink where i was. It was eerie.

the suburb next to us had a wild scrub fire which gutted 9 homes. It's a speck compared to the lunar landscape King Lake and Marysville have become.

my thoughts are will all those affected

xox

O Editor said...

HI, I just came across your blog because of the updates in blogger.com and I saw the sky pictures, and I just love it! They are fantastic! I'm a sky-and-clouds (amateur) photographer myself, and they are great!

Jane said...

Beautiful skies, thanks for sharing.

Kringle said...

What a beautiful way to start the day
thank you!
Kringle

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Gorgeous and haunting.

(BTW...do you see that Blogger listed you as a Blog of Note?)

Roy Bishop said...

Your account of the fire offers a rare first-hand look at what is taking place and provides teachers an opportunity to share the experience with their students. Also, Congratulations on making “blog of note”

computer hardware said...

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Pat Houseworth said...

Over 100 posts...I pray for your country in it's time of desperation. Looks like many others are concerned as well.

Poutalicious said...

Amazing how something so devastating can be photographed so beautifully. You're a very good reporter, David.

CrazyCath said...

About time you were "Blog of Note".
I always knew you were of course. ;0)

Anonymous said...

Like always, your pictures say it all. Vibrant, beautiful and yet this time around, so harsh and tragic. The following Wednesday was referred to as a true Ash Wednesday for Australia, over the networks here in North America.

Congratulations for being elected the Blogger of Note on blogger.com.

I'd directed a friend from Burma who lives in Australia now, to authorblog. Check dmcm4505@bigpond.net.au ,02/07/09 to see his remarks.

More later,

Rene.

indicaspecies said...

David,

What's happening is tragic, and I hope there's an end to this soon. Take care!

The Good Life in Virginia said...

beautiful skies...the colors are amazing...my thoughts are with everyone who is trying to cope with all the loss.
take care.
erin

pantteri said...

In Finland we follow your tragedy every day. Amazing beautiful photos you have taken from this horror heat. Hope you the Best.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

So much beauty, caused by such destruction and desolation.

Wonderful pictures, sad story.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Congratulations on being Blog of Note

Tranquility said...

Such an incredibly gorgeous sky, but so sad that it was only a glimpse of beauty in such a terrible and devastating weekend.

Nancy Harper said...

Hey David, so wonderful to stumble upon your blog once again. You're doing so well. Thanks so much for all the bushfire updates... it's been truly horrific. I will keep looking to see what happens next. Hope you and yours are well!
love nanc & doog

Olga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee said...

Wow, David! The beauty of your sky shots never ceases to amaze me. But of all the one's I've seen on your blog I think these are the best. Thank you so much for sharing them and the stories that go along with those skies. May the air soon be cleared of smoke and the cries of those who've lost loved ones and homes.

Peace! & Hope!

Anna said...

David, unfortunately as heat and fire swept through your area, these sky views are beautiful. Anna :)

Daryl said...

The terror/destruction underlying that beauty is awe inspiring

cheshire wife said...

Absolutely amazing! But I hope that we never see the like of this again.

Louise said...

Such amazing beauty paired with such incredible loss. Sometimes that is really hard to understand.

Very nice post/commentary.

Ana said...

Hallo...thanks to fotoprint at my page. and for comment...
great moment y'r got thts time, for beauty skies. And last evening i'm try to make some like you done...shots some sky for the evening time, but still not upload..yet :)
Oh, ya..i make another blog :)..just fun...i wish u always back to gv me smile

Have a wnderful time always

regards,
Ana