Black Summer : Book Review

Australia’s 2019 – 2020 Black Summer bush fires burnt an estimated 18 million hectares. Thirty three people died, 5,900 buildings were destroyed, including 3,000 homes. At least one billion animals lost their lives and some endangered species have been driven to the brink of extinction.”

This is the premise of Black Summer, a collection of short stories written by ABC journalists about the things they witnessed on the ground in almost all the fire sites and communities across the nation. It covers “the stories of loss, courage and community” and was compiled as an acknowledgement of the devastation and destruction of that period as well as the strength and resilience of the people. A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

Black Summer is an entry into the Gaia Reading Challenge promoted by Sharon at Galaxies and Gum Trees in that it covers both Nature and the Environment. The book does not pretend to offer any solutions, merely sharing what those in the affected areas experienced ; the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

” There are horrific stories of cars with aluminium features melted into a puddle. Many tell of the horrifying roar of the fires. Louise Brown lost her home, but not her Cobargo bookshop which survived the fire that ripped through the town’s main street. She announced the reopening of the shop with a sign in the window :” Post-apocalyptic fiction now moved to current affairs”. Pretty much sums up the situation and the Aussie spirit, I’d say.

In all of the stories Nature played a massive part in the devastation. Fighting the fires in Stanthorpe, QLD, on the border of NSW, was hampered by the 7 year long drought which saw the town’s dam virtually empty and the Council having to truck drinking water in for the locals. Changing winds also saw flare ups across many sites across the country and it was gentle yet continual rainfall which finally helped put the fires out some three months after the devastation started.

Have we learnt any lessons from these out-of-control bush fires?

I could respond though my reply would be considered way too political for general consumption. Next time you are driving past stop by and I’ll share my thoughts over a bottle of chardy and a cheese platter.

10 thoughts on “Black Summer : Book Review

    1. They were tough days, even as a spectator. I think everyone in the country was touched somehow. I had one visually impaired girlfriend, a widow, fight for her house with damp sugar bags and another who couldn’t travel home for Christmas. I actually got caught up in the Tenterfield fires early on : travelled to a music festival and the township was cut off without power. Scary as….


  1. Sharon

    This one is on my list too – I suspect even the most entrenched urbanite no longer needs to see stories about that summer to understand the impact of fires – growing up in rural Australia the most gut wrenching thing about fires is the clean up afterwards when farmers have to go around ending the misery of stock and wildlife caught in the fires – nothing more heart wrenching and yet most times people continue on but not always. I am haunted by one story of a farmer who dedicatedly did the clean up but shortly after ended up turning the gun on himself. That story is from many years ago not that summer of hell but I can imagine that there were many people for whom the wounds of that event will be long lived. Property is one thing but having to go in and deal with the real horror of the destruction and the suffering is true horror that never ever goes away. Thanks for participating in the challenge May.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 This is one I just borrowed digitally from the Library. Very sad but also uplifting in that the human spirit can rise to such heights in times of such tragedy.

      Watched an Errol Flynn movie last night. He played a drunk ( so no acting on his part 🤪) but the story line was based on one of the first popular environmental books written in recent times. The local library is hunting it down for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bin Chickens and nature reading – Gum trees and Galaxies

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