Land of Fire3rd November 2014 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
It’s not until you are in Australia that you appreciate how ever-present the danger of fire is in peoples’ lives. For the plants, it is an essential method of regeneration, but for the people it is their greatest fear. In the National Parks, they have adopted the Aboriginal practice of mosaic burning to reduce the risk of vast forest fires. Mosaic burning involves lighting small controllable fires to reduce the litter on the forest floor. This is enough to release seeds from their pods and also creates a flush of fresh growth that the wildlife can feed on. Fire hazard rating signs appear at regular intervals alongside roads, every home has an evacuation plan, and one woman told me she packs up all her documents and most precious possessions and puts them into fire-safe storage every summer because she fully expects the house to burn down at some point. Throughout our trip the fire rating in the areas we visited were ‘low to moderate’ – I doubt we would have been as relaxed if the arrow had been higher up the dial.