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The 2006 Mt. Buller Bushfire

A couple of days ago the wife and I decided to make the drive up into the Victorian Alps to see the bushfires for ourselves. The major mountain closest to Melbourne in Mt. Buller. On the way to Mt. Buller we saw numerous fire trucks heading back home for the holidays. On the radio they said the fire crews had been reduced from 3500 to 300 during the holidays. It was good to see that the recent rain and snow was able to help these firefighters get home for the holidays. Also on the way to Mt. Buller we noticed that the sky for most of the way was very clear and just an all around nice day. Even when we drove into the city of Mansfield which is the largest city near Mt. Buller, the sky was still mostly clear.

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If you have ever watched The Man from Snowy River, the Mansfield area including Mt. Buller is where the movie was filmed. I’ve been told that to this day many of the horse riders that served as extras in the movie still live in the Mansfield area. The movies have allowed Mansfield to cultivate it’s country charm and it’s famous horses to bring in tourists dollars; not to mention the money it brings in during the winter months from the Mt. Buller ski resort.

Besides it’s movie history Mansfield is also known as being one of the haunts of Australia’s most famous bushranger or what we in the state would call an outlaw, Ned Kelly. In the Wombat Ranges just north of Mansfield the Kelly Gang killed three Mansfield policemen that were searching for the Kelly Gang. The Kelly Gang to this day remain controversial in Australia because some consider them folk heroes while others consider them brutal killers. In Mansfield the Kelly Gang was considered murderers and a memorial was constructed in the middle of the town to commemorate the three policemen who were killed fighting the Kelly Gang.

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We spent a good chunk of the day walking around Mansfield and was quite impressed with the quality of the main camping store downtown. It was the best store I have seen in Australia so far. I will definitely have to go back there again and buy some of the quality products they have there.

We also ate lunch at a local restaurant and my wife ordered a caesar salad while I ate some eggs and bacon. My food was really good but for whatever reason I guess in Australia they like to put fish in a caesar salad. My wife could barely eat her salad because it tasted so bad because of the fish. Lesson learned don’t ever buy a caesar salad in Australia.

After checking out downtown in Mansfield we then drove up the road to Mt. Buller. Not to far outside of Mansfield we saw our first signs of the bushfires:

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Further down the road the firefighters had the road closed so we could not actually get to Mt. Buller. We were going to have to settle for pictures from a distance:

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Here is a closer look at Mt. Buller:

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As you can see from above even though the high country had rain and even snow the fires continue to burn. The next day after we came back from Mt. Buller the wind picked up which caused the smoke from the fires to obscure the sky again:

SMOKE has blanketed Melbourne for the New Year long weekend as firefighters burn off 100,000ha of bush to protect towns and the city’s major water catchment.

Bushfires which raged across Victoria’s northeast for most of December has consumed 850,000ha of forest and farmland, an area almost five times the size of Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) planning and performance director Duncan Pendrigh said this would increase by another 100,000ha under a planned back-burn focusing on the eastern fire front and the Thomson Dam reservoir, which contributes about 60 per cent of Melbourne’s total water storage capacity.

With easterly winds forecast for the entire weekend, a smoke haze is expected to hang over Melbourne as revellers welcome in 2007.

A storm system that rolled in last night caused fears of lightning strikes but,
right now as I am sitting here typing this there is rain falling outside which should further help put out the fires.

By the way Happy New Year everyone.

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