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This image was taken near Marysville after the Black Saturday bush fires. For many weeks following the fires the most affected areas had heavy police presence and were cordoned off to the general public. After one trip south and many frustrating attempts at finding a road which did not have a police block I gave up trying and returned home to Sydney. Some six weeks later I returned, spending 4 days photographing the most affected areas just out of Marysville. On my final day I wondered along this road through this state forest in the mist and drizzle: a rather sombre but thoroughly moving experience.

Fierce winds and 47ºC temperatures led to the 2009 Black Saturday firestorm which become the largest, deadliest, and most intense firestorm ever experienced in Australia’s post-European history. 173 people died and 414 were injured as a result of the fires. As the day of Black Saturday progressed, all-time record temperatures were being reached. Melbourne hit 46.4ºC, the hottest temperature ever recorded in an Australian city. Humidity levels dropped to below 6%. A new level was added to the nation’s fire danger system: catastrophic.  Scientists warn of a doubling or even a tripling of extreme fire weather days in the wake of Black Saturday.

On the day I took this image I was reading Cormac McCarthy’s book ‘The Road’ which no doubt inspired me. I find this book profoundly affecting, even amongst a seemingly desperate and hopeless situation. It is in the human condition to always find hope.

Full image:

Black Saturday - Michael Hall

Marysville, Victoria some weeks after the Black Saturday bush fires.

 

One thought on “Black Saturday

  1. Outstanding photography of a macabre scene Michael. I’m reminded of the work The Climate Institute did recently on the mental health impacts of such extreme events, and the personal stories of survival from communities like Kinglake. The trauma echoes to this day, even as people show tremendous resilience. With the climate changing so fast, that resilience is a precious resource.

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