Bushfire aerial reconnaissance.

Another Australian first. The first fire spotting aircraft in Australia was deployed on 18 February 1930 when a RAAF Westland Wapiti from No.1 Squadron operating out of Point Cook near Melbourne flew over the nearby Dandenong Ranges. The first Chairman of the Forests Commission, Owen Jones, had been one of Britain’s pioneering aviators in theContinue reading “Bushfire aerial reconnaissance.”

Bushfire dugouts.

In addition to building dams and water points, the Stretton Royal Commission recommended expanding the use of bushfire dugouts. Well-constructed dugouts had saved the lives of many sawmill workers and their families during the 1939 bushfires. But in some locations, they had proved fatal. Dugouts became mandatory for those few sawmills that remained in theContinue reading “Bushfire dugouts.”

Ash Wednesday 1983 – Bushfire mosaics.

There is a common belief that even the slightest bushfire in mountain ash forests (E. regnans) is catastrophic and uniformly kills every tree in its wake. It’s true that mountain ash is very susceptible to bushfire, but the story is not that simple. Fire behaviour and intensity depends on many things, like forest type andContinue reading “Ash Wednesday 1983 – Bushfire mosaics.”

AIIMS – Incident Control System (ICS).

In July 1983, the Forests Commission ran a three-day staff workshop to review the previous calamitous bushfire season. The formation of the Department of Conservation, Forests, and Lands (CFL) had only just been announced at the time of the meeting. Police Commissioner Mick Miller’s Inquiry, and Coroner Anthony Ellis’s probe into Ash Wednesday were alsoContinue reading AIIMS – Incident Control System (ICS).

Cann River campaign fires – 1983.

Most focus and media commentary about the 1982-83 bushfire season naturally centres on the deadly Ash Wednesday fires of 16 February 1983 when 75 people were killed in Victoria and South Australia. But in the far east of the State, and largely unreported by mainstream media, the Forests Commission Victoria (FCV) and CFA faced twoContinue reading “Cann River campaign fires – 1983.”

Bright Plantation Fire – 1982.

Maybe it was an ominous foreboding of a long fire season ahead for the CFA and the Forests Commission Victoria (FCV). Major bushfires broke out in November 1982 at Seaton, Murrindal and Mt Elizabeth in Gippsland, as well as the mallee desert and Mt. Disappointment near Broadford On Wednesday 24 November at 2.00 pm aContinue reading “Bright Plantation Fire – 1982.”

Ash Wednesday 1983 – Cockatoo.

Cockatoo is a small village nestled into the southern foothills of the Dandenong Ranges were the suburbs meets the bush. Narrow gravel roads and modest fibro homes characterised the settlement. The Cockatoo fire began late afternoon at 7.28 pm on Ash Wednesday 16 February 1983, about four hours after the blaze at Belgrave South. ItContinue reading “Ash Wednesday 1983 – Cockatoo.”

Ash Wednesday 1983 – Belgrave / Upper Beaconsfield.

On Ash Wednesday 16 February 1983, at 3.24 pm, a bushfire started on Birds Land near Mount Morton Road at Belgrave Heights. There had been concerns expressed in the months before the fire about the fuel loads by the CFA to the local Sherbrooke council which owned the block. The temperature at 2.00 pm atContinue reading “Ash Wednesday 1983 – Belgrave / Upper Beaconsfield.”

Major bushfires for the Forests Commission in 1982-83.

1982-83 was a long and hectic fire season for the Forests Commission with 823 fires and the total area burnt of 486,030 ha, which was well above the 11-year average of 141,000 ha. Ash Wednesday on 16 February 1983 was only part of the story. The main fires within the Fire Protected Area (FPA), whichContinue reading “Major bushfires for the Forests Commission in 1982-83.”

Dandenong Ranges Buyback Scheme.

History has shown that after each major bushfire, particularly if there has been a significant loss of life and property, there are vocal calls from affected communities and media commentators for State and Local Governments to stop further land subdivision, to apply restrictive building standards and buyback high-risk homes on the forest fringe. The BlackContinue reading “Dandenong Ranges Buyback Scheme.”

Conrad Wood – Bushfire Biggles.

If ever anyone could claim (not that he ever would) to have pioneered modern aerial firefighting and forestry aviation in Australia it was Conrad Wood. Woody graduated from the Victorian School of Forestry in 1957, and after postings with the Forests Commission Victoria (FCV) at Swifts Creek and Sirex surveys, he gravitated into the orbitContinue reading “Conrad Wood – Bushfire Biggles.”

Firebombing Folklore, Fantasy & Fairytales.

Late one summer afternoon in the early 1980s, a small fixed-wing firebomber was dispatched from Benambra to a smoke sighting near Gelantipy which had been reported by the local firetower. The experienced bush pilot took-off in the fading light and lengthening shadows to try and locate the fire but couldn’t find it. On the returnContinue reading “Firebombing Folklore, Fantasy & Fairytales.”

Florrie Hodges – 1926 bushfire heroine.

The 1926 Black Sunday bushfires are largely forgotten now, being overshadowed by the catastrophic 1939 Black Friday bushfires thirteen years later. The fires on Saint Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1926, swept across large areas of Gippsland, the Yarra Valley, the Dandenong Ranges and Kinglake. The figures vary, but it’s thought that as many as 60Continue reading “Florrie Hodges – 1926 bushfire heroine.”

Wilsons Prom bushfire – 1951.

In early February 1951 a couple of small fires were burning unchecked near Yanakie, at the northern end of Wilsons Promontory National Park. One was believed to have escaped from a campfire left unattended at Tin Pot Waterhole which was outside the northern boundary of the park. They had been burning for almost three weeks,Continue reading “Wilsons Prom bushfire – 1951.”

Gladys Sanderson – 1939 Bushfire Heroine.

Gladys Elizabeth Sanderson was the relieving Post Mistress at Noojee during the devasting Black Friday bushfires on January 13, 1939. She became famous for her unwavering bravery by continuing to keep the phone lines open and making calls to the Warragul Post Office, which she prefaced by the phrase “Noojee Calling”. The only person inContinue reading “Gladys Sanderson – 1939 Bushfire Heroine.”