Inside Story

Current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond

159 words

Podcasts

Black Saturday’s prehistory

13 March 2009

Understanding the inevitability of devastating fires is essential for local communities and policy makers, historian Tom Griffiths tells Peter Clarke

Right:

Mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forest at The Black Spur near Healesville, Victoria.
Bill Bachman/Wildlight/AAP Image

Mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forest at The Black Spur near Healesville, Victoria.
Bill Bachman/Wildlight/AAP Image


Black Saturday seared itself into the history books and the memories of many on 7 February 2009. The grieving, the slow recovery and the debates continue. Over millions of years, the world’s tallest flowering plants, the great Mountain Ash eucalypts of the forests of Victoria, have evolved as “fire weeds,” ensuring their survival by spreadng their seeds in ash beds open to the light previously shadowed by their towering canopies. They die to survive. Their cycles are much longer than ours. But their special relationship to the inevitability of devastating fires within the “fire flume” of the Victorian bush offers a tough but essential lesson for local communities and policy makers at both state and federal levels, as historian Tom Griffiths tells Peter Clarke.

Stream or download the audio here

This discussion is based on Tom Griffith’s article about the Black Saturday bushfires for Inside Story, We have still not lived long enough.

Send us a comment

We welcome contributions about the issues covered in articles in Inside Story. We ask contributors to provide their full name for publication, but if for any reason you need to use a pseudonym please submit your comment to us via email. Because all comments are moderated, they will not appear immediately. Your email address is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Thanks for commenting.

If your comment is approved, it will appear here in the next few days.

Read next

3857 words

Books & Arts

A difficult neighbourhood

2 July 2013

A new account of Poland’s experience of the second world war helps fill a blank page in our historical consciousness, writes John Besemeres

Right:

Unequal struggle: a street in Warsaw in the aftermath of the failed 1944 uprising against Nazi occupiers. Reuters

Unequal struggle: a street in Warsaw in the aftermath of the failed 1944 uprising against Nazi occupiers. Reuters