Wednesday, January 15, 2014



Perth Fire – Western Australia

Picture: Department of Fire and Emergency Services

If you’ve read an earlier blog, Straddie Ablaze 2014 you will know how close our island community came to human disaster.  Properties on our island were threatened as fire fighters fought a week long battle to halt the rush of flames. We were incredibly lucky; though 60% of our once lush holiday destination is now a blackened reminder of the January bush fires and our unique and precious population of native fauna has been almost decimated, no homes or lives were lost.

Not so for our fellow Australians in Western Australia.

As our fire emergency on Straddie was coming to an end, for the residents of Mundaring Shire in the tree studded hills fringing Perth their nightmare was just beginning.

January in Australia, summer heat, the fun of Christmas, New Year celebration still evident in greeting cards, family gifts; January should be our holiday time, the kids still on vacation, home from school; lazy fun filled  days, a new year beginning to unfold.

Perth in Western Australia is on the opposite side of the map to North Stradbroke Island in Queensland; as the crow flies roughly 3,610 km distant.  Perth way over in the west sits on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, while we in the east of our vast continent enjoy the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean.

On Saturday residents of Perth’s hillside suburbs woke to heatwave conditions with temperatures reaching a high of 43 degrees Celsius. The outbreak of fire was sudden and spread quickly through the outlying semi rural suburbs of Mt Helena, Parkerville and Stoneville.

 There is no comparison between the two outbreaks of fire except for that very fiery description.  On Straddie the fire was slow burning, our firies had plenty of time to strategically back burn and put in place an evacuation.  In Western Australia the fire erupted in a sudden blazing fury and spread before containment lines could be effectively established. 

Within hours the once tree studded suburb resembled a blackened battle field and one man had died.

On Straddie we had homes to return to:  In Perth 52 homes were burnt to the ground.  

Here in Queensland and especially in Dunwich we feel Perth’s tragic loss keenly;   there are no words to adequately express our sympathy and our sense of camaraderie… no words at all.


Robyn Mortimer Jan 14 2014