Here is a dramatization of the events surrounding the destruction of the town of Dwellingup in Western Australia in January 1961. It was written and narrated by Roger Underwood. Other voices are provided by professional actors. The stories are by real people, and are taken from Roger Underwood’s book Tempered by Fire.
It was broadcast as three episodes by Perth community radio station Capital Radio FM.
This is a unique production, with real people recalling real events in the real bushfire world. It also has some underlying messages. One of these is that the so-called “unprecedented weather” on the eastern seaboard last summer was nothing new in Australian history at all. Another is the futility of trying to control bushfires burning in heavy fuels under strong winds.
In case the links move too far down the list over time, here are the direct links to the audio files (approx. 15~20 min. each):
By Roger Underwood
When Prime Minister Morrison announced that there would be a Royal Commission into the 2020 bushfires in NSW and Victoria, my first reaction was ‘It’s not needed’. People who know about bushfires already knew precisely what caused the disaster and what needs to be done to ensure it does not happen again.
Read more: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2020/11/the-flaming-idiocy-of-yet-another-bushfire-panel/
Experienced land and fire managers from eight community groups across Australia have jointly written to the Prime Minister urging the restoration of healthy and safe rural landscapes. The grass-roots organisations represent more than 6,000 members and 14 regional councils. They have called for an end to the ongoing loss of human life and the socioeconomic and environmental destruction caused by extreme bushfires.
Former Chief of CSIRO Bushfire Research, Phil Cheney, says that a focus on emergency response at the expense of land management has created an unstoppable monster. Expenditure on fire fighting forces is ever-increasing whilst volunteers are being cynically used to deflect criticism away from failed government policies. Land management agencies no longer have primary responsibility for suppressing wildfires. Consequently they have little incentive for stewardship and fire mitigation. Cheney is a scientific advisor to Volunteer Fire Fighters Association.
Chairman of Western Australia’s Bushfire Front, Roger Underwood, points to the stark contrast in historical fire management policies and outcomes on either side of the continent. Seventy years of data from WA show a strong inverse relationship between the area maintained by mild burning and the area subsequently damaged by high intensity fires. This relationship is especially apparent in extreme fire seasons.
Underwood is widely experienced in sustainable land and fire management at all levels from lighting or fighting fires on the ground, to leading a State land management agency. He highlights the deep divide between those who actively care for the bush and who understand bushfire science and operations, compared to the Academics and Fire Chiefs who are misleading governments. The Royal Commission did not call upon Mr. Cheney, Mr. Underwood or similar elders to give evidence. Their consideration of previous bushfire inquiries went back only as far as the COAG whitewash in 2004.
The Royal Commission has accepted wrong advice from academics and modellers rather than information from experienced practitioners. Consequently its conclusions on Effectiveness of Fuel Management are substantially incorrect.
Our land was successfully managed for tens of thousands of years, through some extreme climate changes, by people with long experience, but only the most basic technology. It is shocking to see how this has been replaced by reliance on computer modelling and hugely expensive but futile paramilitary response capacity. The inevitable carnage will continue in the wake of this Royal Commission unless active landscape management based on pragmatic science is reinstated.
Phil Cheney 0420 896526 (ACT)
Roger Underwood 0429 339405 (WA)
From the Howitt Society:
Dear Prime Minister,
The Bushfires Royal Commission – providing no hope for the future The Royal Commission’s interim observations and the draft propositions give cause for grave concerns.
Conditions leading to Black Summer were not unprecedented. Equally atrocious conditions have been recorded periodically since the Settlement Drought, starting in 1790, when thousands of flying foxes and lorikeets dropped dead at Parramatta during three days of extreme heat and searing winds. Aboriginal fires were constantly burning, but Europeans were able to contain any that reached their settlements, because fuels were light and discontinuous. Our first known megafire occurred about 1820 in the Strzeleckis, after local Aborigines were decimated by smallpox. When Aboriginal management was disrupted across Victoria, 5 million hectares exploded on Black Thursday 1851. By the start of the 20 th Century, before any manmade warming, megafires were delivering unprecedented quantities of charcoal in 70,000 years of sedimentary records.
Read the full letter: https://saltbushclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/man-made-megafires-letter-to-pm.pdf [PDF, 509KB]
By John Shanahan
Denver, Colorado, USA
I am glad that you are having a beautiful autumn in New England.
Across the drier American West (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington State, and Wyoming), we are dealing with natural wildfires complicated by decades of catastrophic extreme environmentalist interference to fight natural fires, prohibit controlled burning and let dead biomass accumulate for decades. People have built towns and homes close to or in forests. On top of that, pine and spruce trees naturally grow too close together. See photo below of trees in Yellowstone National Park as it recovers from wildfires. Extreme environmentalists in Australia are doing the same. See Viv Forbes’ articles, click here. Why is this happening?
Read the full article: https://saltbushclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/forest-management.pdf [PDF, 924 KB]
Real goal is to avoid responsibility for policies, and increase control over energy, lives, property
By Paul Driessen
In what has become an annual summer tragedy, wildfires are again destroying western US forests. Millions of acres and millions of animals have been incinerated, hundreds of homes reduced to ash and rubble, dozens of parents and children killed, and many more people left missing, injured or burned.
Air quality across wide regions and entire states is so bad people are told to stay indoors, where many have hibernated for months because of the coronavirus, but indoor air is also contaminated. Acrid smoke and soot have been carried to Chicago and beyond. Firefighters are profiles in courage, as they battle the blazes for days on end, while all too many politicians are displaying profiles in opportunism. Continue reading “‘Climate arson’ and Other Wildfire Nonsense”
By Viv Forbes
A NSW Bushfire Enquiry concluded: “Hazard-reduction burns should be greatly increased”.
What a breath of good sense. If there is no fuel, there can be no fire.
They also urge a return to indigenous fire management. Aboriginals burnt anything and everything, at any time, for any reason. They had no water-bombers and seldom tried to put fires out, but they did understand back-burning. Their vegetation management created the vast and productive open forests and grasslands that supported large populations of marsupials and birds.
But tree huggers would never support this. They prefer scrub, weeds, pests and occasional fierce wildfires.
A submission to The Royal Commission into
National Natural Disaster Arrangements
Presented by Viv Forbes
On Behalf of The Saltbush Club
PDF version: https://saltbushclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/bushfire-enquiry.pdf
The Landscape and wildlife of Australia was shaped and then maintained by frequent mild burning for at least 40,000 years. This reality must be recognised and it dictates that there are only two futures for Australia:
A healthy safe landscape that maintains sustainable vegetation, wildlife and people. This requires that we re-establish the successful fire regimes of the past.
A dangerous and destructive landscape with too many people cowering in suburban and rural enclaves surrounded by a tinderbox of pest-ridden weeds, scrub and litter – a threat to trees, wildlife and property. This is today’s fire regime in Eastern Australia.
Our submission focusses on Bushfires. Continue reading “Bushfires in Australia – Royal Commission Submission”
By Vic Jurskis
Lieutenant Watkin Tench arrived at Warrane (Sydney Cove) with the First Fleet in 1788. Tench described a diversity of birds and animals, present in small numbers:
The country, I am of opinion, would abound with birds, did not the natives, by perpetually setting fire to the grass and bushes, destroy the greater part of the nests; a cause which also contributes to render small quadrupeds scarce. Continue reading “The Parable of Gospers Mountain, or how aboriginal burning changed the face of Australia”
‘We saw this coming for years’: Farmers take legal action after fires.
Six farmers are preparing to take legal action against the NSW state government, arguing a massive bushfire in northern NSW could have been prevented if more hazard reduction had been allowed.
In what could be the first class action after this summer’s horror bushfire season, graziers hit by the August blaze in the Guy Fawkes National Park, west of Coffs Harbour, say it was “a disaster waiting to happen”.