14 Jan 2016

Hellfire in WA

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

                 My Country
                                                  Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968)

Every school child, and indeed, every Australian would know these lines, and last week the terror of the land visited and destroyed the town of Yarloop (pop 550), about 150 km south of Perth, and 2 men in their seventies were killed, not to mention livestock and wildlife.

Yarloop was a timber town, with historic mills which utilised steam engines.  These days the mills and engines have been preserved and converted into a museum.  All these were destroyed

I reproduce these headlines from our local newspaper for you to have an idea of the immensity of the fire, which has been described as the worst since 1961, when the town of Dwellingup in the hills was burnt out.

At one point, the firefront was 200 km wide.  It is still burning today, though finally under control,and last night the town of Cookernup was saved by a change of wind direction.

If you're interested, the poem above can be found here.   Youtube has a recording of Dorothea Mackellar herself reading this poem.


  1. The fires were awesome and the loss of lives and properties tragic. Glad you are not affected.

    1. Thankfully we are far from the scene of the tragedies. I am reminded though, of the summer in 2009 when my son had to evacuate from his house in the Dandenongs 4 times. Luckily, his house escaped unscathed.

  2. Yes, I saw that in the news, real tragic. So sad for the people in the little town. We have the horrendous haze here every year but compared to this, that one is nothing really.

    1. It's our very dry climate, and in summer temperatures can get very high, over 40C. This fire was caused by lightning strikes, but quite often arsonists cause the disaster.