Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Victoria after the fires

I left Abu Dhabi last week on my own. Ron has stayed behind to work and I am off to play. Flying from Abu Dhabi to Sydney has become routine and although it is now something I can do without trepidation it is still a very long flight - 14 hours and we race the daybreak to Sydney. It is strange to get on the plane in the morning and also get off in the morning (of the next day) having spent 14 hours somewhere in the twilight between. Usually if I can get about 4-6 hours sleep I can weather the flight quite well, stay awake for the next day and crash back into a routine fairly quickly. This time I just couldn't sleep much at all and spent the whole time watching movies and playing solitairre. On arriving in Sydney I transferred to a later flight to Melbourne, spending about 2 hours at the domestic terminal in Sydney. Arrived Melbourne about 2pm and by the time I reached the hotel I had been travelling and not sleeping for just over 24 hours - however it was only early and I felt I shouldn't sleep till night time so I just kept on till 11pm before crashing completely!

I met up with Nerissa in the afternoon and we sat and chatted and then walked to Chinatown for a lovely dinner and then down to Southbank for a drink and back to the hotel. Nerissa had made all the arrangements and the apartment was perfect. By the time I hit my bed I doubt I could keep my eyes open another minute and I went out like a light till 8.30 the next morning!

You can NOT go to Melbourne without doing some shopping - I believe it is the capital for shopping in Australia...so just one pair of pants and two tops later....and some new swimsuit bits...oh, yes and a nice little cammie.....we stopped for a coffee and headed off to Gippsland where Nerissa lives.

Nerissa drives a very sleek looking Holden Astra convertible - silver with red leather seats - how racey! So we drove out of Melbourne and along the freeway with the top down, until it really got very breezy and a bit cold and we pulled over and raised the lid and cruised on to her home in Churchill.

Churchill was the focal point for some of the devasting fires that swept through Victoria last month. They lost over 200 buildings in the area and 11 people were killed. It is a frightening reminder of just how dreadful Aussie bushfires can be. The fires in Churchill were deliberatley lit and this makes it all the more nasty. Nerissa lives in a perfectly gorgeous cedar log cabin style home and after evacuating for four days she was so pleased to see it still standing on her return after the fires. Many of her neighbours were not so lucky and within about 50 metres of her home you can see the evidence of fire - 100 metres away there is total destruction. I think whatever God you believe in had his eye on their property and blessed them.

So I am spending some time with Nerissa, Chris and Leigh - very leisurely and just today the weather is cooler and a light rain has been falling. Tomorow we set off for Sydney with a slow drive along the coast............I like being on holidays - here are some photos from the fires, you can see just how much they destroyed. If you look closely you can see a house that was burned down on the hill... Nerissa says it was a white stone house and it really looks like it is out in the open - the grassfire was really intense. Look at the bottom of the trees and you can see the ash that is now a carpet - this area had lots of undergrowth and it has just disintegrated.