I found this charred piece of someone’s book on the edge of Timbarra Drive, Beechmont, where 10 houses were destroyed by fire last weekend. I talked to some firefighters who were patrolling the area in a truck, and thanked them for the amazing work they had done to save the rest of the houses in our area. They expressed regret in not being able to save more. But the fire was just too fierce when it came over the western side of the plateau. The firies had to retreat to safe ground, and I reassured them that I was very glad that they did, and there was no loss of human life.
Last Friday we had to quickly leave our house with our ‘valuables’ as the fire was fast approaching. What are your valuables? What is important? For me it is the people and the creatures that I love, plus some writing, some art, some letters exchanged many years ago. Then I also packed the things I needed to get by day-to-day (some clothes, food, devices, passports, wallets, etc) because we didn’t know when we could return home, and there was a real chance that our house and everything in it would be lost.
I am lucky. My house still stands. All those bits and pieces that make my life comfortable and productive are still in place. But the world around me is shifting, changing, under my feet.
There has never been a fire like this, sweeping through the northern flanks of Lamington National Park, in whitefella human history. That’s why we moved here – we thought we’d be safe from fire, at least for a few years before climate change really kicked in. But now it has. Unprecedented low humidity levels for south east Queensland. Unprecedented high September temperatures. A drought that feels like it will never end. The leaf litter in the rainforest is dry and crispy. The normally verdant green grass of Beechmont is browning off. All is dry, so tinder-dry.
These mountains are my home, these forests are my refuge, these rainforests are my sacred place. But climate change is taking this away from me. If my house burns down, I can rebuild it somewhere else. But I can’t rebuild this landscape the same as it was. Not while the weather continues its relentless march into new territory that’s hostile to humans and rainforests alike.
Yes I am so grateful to the brave people who saved my house. But now we all need to be brave, and act swiftly, to save the natural world, which is our true home.
What are you prepared to do to save your home?