This is the one time of the year when living in Australia loses some of its appeal – the season of searing heat, hot winds and bush fires. New South Wales and Victoria are typically high on the fire risk. This summer Tasmania has been in the news with entire towns wiped out. Christchurch people, knowing all too well the trauma of natural disaster, can easily feel sympathetic towards their near neighbours. I have been in Tasmania on one occasion several decades ago. I enjoyed walking from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair. The people were consistently friendly, insisting they were Tasmanians, not Australians. I also enjoyed the magnificent city of Hobart. So many times, walking through suburbs, strangers invited me in for a cuppa. So it was heartening to hear on this morning’s news, Kiwi fire-fighters are off to Tasmania to lend a hand. Searing temperatures up to 45 degrees and high winds across much south-eastern mainland Australia is putting authorities on high alert today. One can only hope the day passes without serious incident. Bush fires in Australia can be sparked by several natural causes including lightning strike – a cause of a majority of bush fires. Eucalypt trees can also explode in high temperatures. I recall a wonderful poem read on radio about a wombat failing to escape a fire the clumsy creature caused after clambering over broken glass. Was it written by Douglas Stewart?
It is heartening trans-Tasman relations continue to be such we willingly go to each other’s aid. We remember very well the Australian Police, and others, who rushed to Christchurch in the wake of the February 2011 earthquake.