Thursday, January 9, 2020

Australian fires are not so far away from New Zealand.

 For thousands of years, 'fire' has been a 'constant' in The Land Down Under. Fire is part of that which makes up this 'Lucky Land.'  Indeed, fire is necessary for the propagation of some trees and plants. But while nature ruled, there was a balance. The original people, the many different tribes that make up the Aboriginal population, knew how to live with the ever-present threat.

When Europeans arrived they spread across the continent, seeking and taking land, bringing their animals and displacing in many instances, those that were already present.  However, it would be accurate to claim that the vast number of the new human arrivals, to this day, have clung to the 'edges.' Most Australians live in four big cities or within two hundred kilometres of them. Others live in the bush and it is in that 'bush' that living with the threat of fire is never far away, especially in the increasingly longer periods of 'hot and dry,' with the wind bringing about even more danger as it 'fans the furnace.'

Every year, we read about or witness on the News and Social Media, the damage done by fire; destroying pasture, bush and homes, taking lives, human and animals (Possibly a  billion animals in the latest catastrophe) and damaging economic activity. In the most recent disaster, vast clouds of smoke from the fires have blotted out the sun, then carried across the Tasman Ocean to New Zealand, causing 'over-worldly' cloud-scapes, an eerily orange sky ... so much so that misinformed observers, panicked to the point that they dialled 111 (NZ's emergency number). Lights had to be switched on at 3pm ... in the middle of summer.

Historically, fire has always been a threat in urban areas of both countries, with wooden buildings being the predominant, and not just in summer. Careless use of candles, cooking methods and possibly drunken reactions contributed to the many fires, sometimes alerting the towns and cities.

While I was researching background material for my latest book, Sons of Orpheus, Book 1 ... The Arrival, I discovered that fire often visited Sydney and threatened the Rocks area. Luck played a part in that we still have this historic area today. Fire-fighting methodology was not the sophisticated, instant response we see today, be it rural or urban in nature. Parts of Auckland were also ravaged by fire.

My book has a very descriptive section, in which 'fire' brings characters together and forges relationships, adding storylines that last throughout the epic series that is the Sons of Orpheus, The Trilogy.

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