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Return to Lake Mountain (photos/video)

Burnt ForestI finally managed to get up to Lake Mountain yesterday 12 months since I’d last got up that way and 5 months after the Black Saturday fires.

As people are most probably aware I did a bit of work on covering the fires at the time due in part to my  understanding of the area and interest in weather, yet 5 months later I will still left with a sinking feeling as I drove through the region.  The grass has all grown back in the valley and the Black Spur has a lot of regrowth already but that doesn’t prepare you for what you see from Narbethong onwards.  The devastation is complete.  The forest is nothing more than barren sticks stretching skywards and the smell of ash still lingers in the air.

Stopping at Marysville there is both hope and despair.  The town was virtually wiped of the map.  Yet with only a few buildings remaining the spirit of the town has survived.  Never have I see the town so busy with people coming and going.  The long lines at the bakery and the overflowing CFA donation bucket show that people are returning and are helping the community.  Yes, and even I was one of them, the vast majority of people I saw had cameras around their necks taking happy snaps of the destruction.  I only took a few photos in town, stopping as it felt wrong for me to take photos of the misery and destruction for no real purpose.

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive as well, but letting your 10y/o kid run around a town that has had so much tragedy and suffering with a toy gun that screamed “fire  fire” which could be heard a block away is bad form of the utmost as well.  Not one resident of Marysville wouldn’t be deeply impacted on by those events and yet his kid with a toy gun were more important to him.

On leaving Marysville I then did the drive to Lake Mountain.  A road I have travelled many times, yet this road was different.  The enclosed feeling of driving through the forest was gone replaced with landscape that looked not to dissimilar to photos from the Tunguska Event. The devastation was complete. The obvious heat of the fire that consumed everything in its path is awe inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Snowy Wombat

Lake Mountain is still there, and like Marysville I’ve never seen it so busy.  And like Marysville it doesn’t look like the same place such as the destruction. The wombat I saw showed that life survived, I am sure however that the wombat must be living on food drops and there was no regrowth on the top of the mountain at all.  Most of the walking trails are still closed and the contrast of the white snow and blacken stumps is striking both in its beauty and it is fullness.

It was both a very sad experience and an empowering one seeing this first hand.  I do recommend that people return to these places… but don’t just go and take happy snaps. Stop and buy some food at the Bakery, put your change in the donation bin.  Take the kids to Lake Mountain to play in the snow, but remind them what happened in these places. It is too important to forget.

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Here is the Drive from Healesville to Lake Mountain… Approx 50 minutes of drive compressed to 6min, 50k distance.

for a comparison… see this blog entry from last year.

The route:

View Larger Map