Feb 7 2009, Black Saturday… 12 months on

A day that changed thousands of Victorian’s lives forever. Today Feb 6 2010 and the weather is much different as is typical of the somewhat erratic nature of Victoria’s climate. The state has already begun to pause and reflect on this day of horror. I still can not imagine nor comprehend what so many people have been and going through. 173 lives lost and over 2000 homes on this day making it Australia’s worst natural disaster on record.

I just watched a report on channel 9 news where in part of the story, they reflected on the loss of longtime news anchor man Bryan Naylor and his wife. Having once built a house for Bryan and his wife and shared many a travel adventure story with them seeing this is bringing back some of my own emotions from the day.

During the evening of Feb 7 2009  I watched the Strzelecki ranges ablaze and smoulder in the the choking evening light as lightning sparked across the apocolyptic sky. I watched in heartfelt disbelief whilst listening to the ABC Gippsland broadcast as emergency radio and fielding people’s calls of help and desperation, with pleas about loved ones. The horror that unfolded across numerous districts in Victoria that day and the tales of survival from so many people is just heart wrenching to me and I’m sure more so to thousands of others.

Below is one of many images that I took and is part of a series over the following months documenting the devastation and some regrowth from the Churchill-Jeeralang fire in Gippsland. I deliberately photographed the forest areas and not peoples properties and losses out of total respect and it has taken this long, and only now does it feel ok to me to share it. This particular image was shot on Feb 10 2009 deep within what was the heart of the inferno. You can still see the ranges smouldering all the way to the horizon in the wake of the deadly firestorm of Feb 7 (Black Saturday) – it’s still surreal to me.

‘ Forest devastation  –  Strzelecki ranges Feb 10, 2009. Fuji G617, Velvia 50 ’

*In memory, peace and hope to all those that lost so much on this day.

~ by Tony Middleton on February 7, 2010.

18 Responses to “Feb 7 2009, Black Saturday… 12 months on”

  1. Cannot even comprehend what it must have been like to be in that inferno! A very sad day for the people involved and Auastralia as awhole.
    While the landscape will recover,rebuilding peoples lives will be a different matter Look forward to seeing your imagas of regeneration


    • Thanks Tim – yeah it was/is. Would you believe many of the areas I photographed had very little to no recovery over 6 months !


  2. very powerful image Tony.
    hard to believe the extent of it all still to this day!

  3. Indeedd it shows how hot it got eh! Not a stick left in some areas of the forrest….a sad day indeed and a great capture to show off what it mustve been like!

    • Yeah they say the fires were over 1000C in places and times – AMAZING !
      I saw 4WD’s with the bullbars and rims just melted into pools. Also an older jeep (?) that must have had aluminium panels (rust prevention) that were melted off ! not to mention some of the other not so pleasent things..


  4. excellent image but one that tells a sad story

  5. Tony, it’s a pity that such a great image tells such a tragic story but I think you have captured the destruction very well, its very apocolyptic and a great capture of a sad moment in Australia’s history.

    • hey Mike,
      Thanks and as I mentioned it’s part of a series/collection that has some more powerful (IMO) images that one day I may do as an exhibition…


  6. very powerful photo…
    On the happy note, the environment recovers quickly, even faster than we think…

    • hi,
      Yeah a lot can recover quickly but when the fire is over 1000 degrees centigrade like in a number of places this particular day it can take years.

      tone 🙂

  7. Tony,
    Thanks for the tribute to great people and a great country. We were up in FNQ dealing with the cyclone flooding and if we could have sent it your way, we would.

    • hi Steve,
      thanks for popping by my blog ! Thanks for the thoughts and I hope you enjoyed your visit to Australia.. It certainly is a land of extremes. 🙂

  8. Great shot …sad story, enough said.

  9. This photo captures the devastation better that any other image I have seen. The only other thing that can do more is to see it in person.
    Lets hope that this type of event NEVER happens again.

    • Thanks Mat – It was pretty darn emotional going there the first few months. I have some insane images from this particular day (Feb 10 2009) in particular and the following 6months as I returned regularly to photograph it. I also actually was back there a few days ago and took a few more images.


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