The bush around Castlemaine has been in fine form this Spring, pumping full of new growth, wildflowers and critters after the drought breaking rain last Summer. Ironically Spring also coincided with the posting of burning operation notices on trees here and there, to occur before the Summer fire season weather permitting. Bittersweet really. The imminent burn was one of the main motivating forces behind my little Spring Equinox movie, so at least among other things it would be a personal record/momento of what the bush was like.

So the first of the D-day’s finally came yesterday. Bummer. A hot,  reasonably calm day followed by a change. The burn was on. A thick smoke haze hung over the town all day, later in the day the wind picked up a little and looking across at the darkening smoke billowing from the bush I wondered how controlled the ‘controlled cool burn’ was, and what would be left.

After a smokey, warm and restless night I headed out this morning in the van to take a look, and then headed out this afternoon on the Mojo HD. Trees burnt out and fallen, more than I expected. Sections of bush thoroughly blackened, where the fire had also crowned the tree tops. Not much green left. Trees smouldering, some still burning. Apart from crackling, close to silent, not the usual ruckus.

Riding around Central Victoria is as much about the rugged, rocky bush as it is the trails, and while the trails won’t take much to repair, the bush will take years to regenerate. I guess as time passes I’ll enjoy observing the regrowth process first hand, but it’s not a fun thing to see another safe haven burnt, and more burns are likely before Summer… 🙁

Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat
Fuel Reduction Burn, Wattle Flat

6 Responses

  1. Wow, what a stark change.

    I understand the reasoning behind these burns but what a cost.

    I don’t have an answer but I can’t help think that more damage has just been done to the environment than mountain bikers could ever do.

    I’m glad I got to enjoy your beautiful part of the world through Spring Equinox before they did this.


  2. I rode there yesterday too, and quite depressing, everything has gone! I also cleared the technical downhill section with the bridges… It was a strange experience being able to see everywhere around that trail, and what could possible done to make it better.

    Have you been up to the Pine Forest behind Castlemaine? About 25% of it has gone and another great section is in process of being cleared!

    It has been a depressing time in riding around Castlemaine recently! Track building looks like it will be a priority this summer.

    Cheers, Shayne

  3. Wow. As I’m ever the optimist, maybe take some marshmallows out on the trails next time? That’s if you can find a stick to toast them on….. Or perhaps a couple of foiled wrapped spuds. Chuck them in a burning stump on your way out, pick them up on a way back, and bam, instant lunch! 🙂

  4. Daniel you’re right mate – it was a ready made weekend market. A hot chocolate stand, marshmallow roasting, baked potatoes, a little Kum ba yah accompanied by guitar round the fire… plus a trip to a blackened moonscape. Does it get any sweeter? 😛

  5. Paul yeah quite a change. Fortunately it looks to be in only a few areas that the fire really took hold.

    I guess the thing is for me, having lived in bush for the majority of my adult life, most of it with _massively_ greater fuel loads compared to around here, and having a couple of fires get close during that time… I (and AFAIK many others) aren’t sold on the cost/benefit of ‘controlled’ burns.

    Much rather live in the bush, with the bush, for what it is – risks and all.

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