I happened to be working today in the Barossa Valley, here in South Australia. All day was pretty wild weather, with 35 degree heat (95 Fahrenheit) and 80 km/h (50 mph) winds. Perfectly catastrophic conditions for a bushfire. Unsurprisingly that’s what happened, I thought I might share a few shots from the day (iPhone photos, didn’t really think about setting up the full tripod and the Hasselblad, so please excuse).
The wind had been mad all day ( a decent part of tree had blocked the road in front of me earlier, and I was about the get all XO on it and use some recovery gear to pull out of the way, and then another chap showed up and we just man-handled it out of the way. Sometimes that’s just easier...), and at first I thought the discolouration of the sky was due to the top soil blowing off (the Barossa is mainly a wine region, but a lot of farming there too). On my way to my last meeting I could see we now definitely had a fire to contend with too.
The Barossa is one of Australia’s main wine regions (god knows what the smoke taint will do to the grapes this year...) and while definitely country Australia, it is a pretty important region and employs a lot of people. I came out of my last meeting, and it was bedlam. The sky way mostly dark and smoke covered, the roads were full of people either trying to get out, or trying to get home for loved ones, pets, etc. When you see a Camry cutting straight through a vineyard, you know people are getting desperate... These photos were taken at around 3 in the afternoon.
Taking a shot looking straight up at the sky.
Without wanting to come over all macho Land Cruiser, grrrr... I was glad I had the Yota. Whatever route I took out, if I had to push down a fence and straight line through some field, having a reliable, capable 4wd, was just the right tool for the job.
I took these snaps and got back in the Cruiser and listened to ABC (Government) radio on AM (I was starting to get emergency txt’s on my phones as they picked up I was in the area) and just listened to what was going on. In these conditions the fire moves very quickly and can change direction just as quickly. All the main town were without power and getting overrun with traffic fast. I was halfway between two of the towns on the ‘danger’ list but one of those was the last on that list and everything else was the other way. So I turned the Cruiser around and headed out that way, it turned out to be a good decision, although for a good 30 or 40 km I still had the left side of my panorama completely dark while the light side was bright sunshine. 4pm in the arvo.
Made it back eventually, ironically driving back through the Adelaide Hills, where a similar fire ripped through last year. All the native fauna (gum trees) are bouncing back, while the plantations (conifers, who signs off on that due diligence...?) remain totally dead.
That’s about as close to bushfire as I ever want to get...