Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Drive Through The Fire Ravaged Toolangi State Forest

We decided to go for a drive to Yea on Saturday, something we do quite regularly, as there are some lovely shops and things in Yea. Anyway, it was the first time we'd been through the area from here to Yea since the bushfires started 3 weeks ago. I guess curiosity got the better of us, and we wanted to see for ourselves what had happened out there. We knew not to go to any of the townships that had been destroyed by the fires ... the police were at the entrance to the roads heading into them anyway. It wouldn't have been fair, as the people who lived there would probably be there, trying to rebuild their lives, and certainly wouldn't want (or need) sightseers hanging around. So, we just travelled through Yarra Glen, via the Melba Highway, to Yea. The roads were quite busy, with a lot of traffic going both ways.

We were horrified by what we saw, once we got out past Yarra Glen, and toward Dixons Creek. The fire had destroyed so much, and you could see how hard the people must've fought, to save their homes. Many sheds and outbuildings, fences, and the like were destroyed, but from what we could see, along the Melba Highway, most of the houses were saved (I can't imagine what it was like further in toward Kinglake, though ... ).

Once we entered the State Forest, into what we call The Slide, we were stunned by what we saw. The whole forest was wiped out, the tree trunks were blackened, the leaves (when there were any left) were all brown and crispy, and there was not a single blade of grass or anything remotely green remaining ... just bare, scorched earth. It was just awful. This used to be a beautiful, lush forest, with a river running deep down beside the road (which we'd never seen, due to the abundant vegetation). We were able to see how steep the hills were, alongside the road (once again, this was never that evident, due to the amount of trees and shrubs and the like that covered everything). I've got to say, I was sitting there, with my mouth open, aghast at what I saw. It is so, so very sad.

As we got to the outer edge of the forest, there were patches of green, which the fire obviously had missed. And heading out toward Glenburn there were big blackened areas, and smaller green ones. Unfortunately, the fires don't seem to have hindered the progress of the North-South Pipeline ... they were busy working away, and have completed heaps more since we were out that way last.
We knew the Glenburn Hotel had been destroyed, but it was so sad to see. This hotel used to always be busy, with bikers, and drivers alike, stopping for a quick drink, or a meal, or a catch up with friends. It was a great little pub. Now, it is just ruins. Again ... so sad.

The remains of the Glenburn Hotel

We kept driving, through to Yea, where we stopped for a drink and a nibble, then turned around and came home, through that devastation once again.
It really makes you think, how difficult it must be for the firefighters, and what an amazing job they do. They have been fighting these fires non-stop now, for 3 weeks ... they must be exhausted. And the poor, poor people who have lost everything (not to mention those who have lost family members). I pray that it rains soon, so the poor guys can have a break, and our state can start the long road to recovery.

What looks like ash in the foreground, is actually burnt hay bales.

Take care,