Note: A repost (image is from Google searches).

If you live in Australia you will know that there is an emergency situation in regards to bushfires in New South Wales.

There are over 60 active fires, particularly in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. The weather conditions are likely to deteriorate tomorrow with increased winds and temperatures and there is a fear that some fires will join together into a mega fire with a huge perimeter.

There are thousands of fire-fighters working on the ground and more are arriving from around Australia as we speak.

It is October and spring in Australia. But February is our hottest month and usually our peak bushfire period.

There are some active fires in the national parks about 40 kilometres from where I live. A piggery was destroyed yesterday in these fires and livestock killed and buildings destroyed. The Bruce Highway and local roads were closed for several hours because of these fires.

The risk will increase unless we get significant rain. The recent floods in this area (January 2013) have caused huge increases in flammable undergrowth. The grass in the fields around here is as dry as bedding hay.

Please let it rain!

And thank you all the firies for the great work you do – true heroes 😀

10 years since Childers backpacker hostel fire

10 years since Childers backpacker hostel fire

The small rural town of Childers is the closest town to where I live at Woodgate Beach (a tiny village that I have lived in for about 3 years). It is a gorgeous town with beautiful old tin and timber Queenslander buildings and wide streets lined with leopard trees. It’s like stepping back in time.

The town is surrounded by rolling hills and fertile land with rich red volcanic soils. The farms produce sugar cane, avocado, macadamia and many other fruits and vegetables. Every year backpackers come from around the world to pick the produce and are very much appreciated by the locals.

Ten years ago on the 23 June 2000 there was a fire in the Palace Backpackers Hostel in Childers, killing 15 young backpackers – 9 women and 6 men, young travelers from Ireland, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. About 60 others managed to escape or were helped out by firefighters. Locals were quick to provide support for the survivors.

Robert Paul Long deliberately set the hostel ablaze, trapping people inside. He is serving a life sentence for murder and arson.

Survivors, families of victims and locals came together on Wednesday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this tragic event.

A memorial was built a couple of years after the fire in the restored building and includes an art gallery. A wonderful painting was completed by Sydney artist Josonia Palaitis called ‘Taking a break in the field’. The painting includes portraits of each of the 15 victims of the fire. You cannot look at this painting and not be completely overwhelmed with emotion at the tragedy of what happened to these young people and their families.

This event has had a huge impact on the people of Childers. Let’s hope this 10 year commemoration will go somewhat toward easing the pain.