And when rains finally fell, they did so in a deluge that bore witness to Dorothea Mackellar's anthem about a sunburnt country with its "droughts and flooding plains".
With dour understatement, the Country Fire Authority officially labelled 2006-07 "a very difficult fire season". The numbers told why – nine total fire bans and 11 partial bans were imposed throughout Victoria, double the number of the previous year; a mammoth blaze engulfed the Great Dividing Range, burning for a record 69 days straight and charring 1. 3 million hectares (an area the size of
And by late September, when thoughts were turning to the Grand Final, the spring racing carnival and "schoolies", the heat was searing again, with lightning strikes setting off blazes across the state. Were these extremes the likely result of climate change and a pointer to the future, or just freakish weather? Either way, the bushfire season now seems eternal, and never before have such demands been made of the CFA's 60,000 volunteer army.
Gippsland copped more than its share of heartbreak when floods followed the fires. In fact, June was a cruel month: storms lashed the eastern seaboard, wreaking havoc in the
Within days of the NSW battering, the worst floods in decades left eastern