Less than a week ago, I was at a workshop at Swinburne’s Healesville campus, the only time I’ve ever been there. We went out for lunch in Healesville and, just by chance, I caught up with a dear friend who happened to be driving past and stopped for coffee. I haven’t seen Di for a number of years and we had a wonderful chat. We didn’t bother exchanging phone numbers because, as she said “You can always get in touch with me via the Marysville Lolly Shop”, which she owns with a friend.
It’s only a few days later, and all of Marysville, that beautiful historic town nestled in the hills is burnt to the ground.
Di – I was so happy to see you on the ABC News to know that you survived the fireball. I am so sorry you lost your beautiful lolly shop, but I know you have the courage and circle of friends and family to deal with what life throws at you. My heart goes out to all the people who have lost homes, livelihoods and more importantly, have lost their loved ones. It will take a long long time for communities to recover.
And as an aside (note that this was written on the Sunday night of the fires), although the fires and devastation this weekend have been much greater than Ash Wednesday, I think many people in Melbourne are fairly oblivious to the scale of devastation. The difference is that on Ash Wednesday, the wind blew smoke and ash onto Melbourne itself, so that people thought their own suburbs were on fire and it was impossible to ignore. There are many many young people who don’t listen to local news services and, in any event, don’t know the names and size of towns in regional Victoria.
Wednesday: An update to the aside: As events unfolded, everyone in Melbourne now knows the extent of the tragedy, but it still feels far away for those that don’t go out to regional areas much. It is as “unreal” for them as pictures of warzones in Iraq. The possibility of two large fires joining around Healesville as the warms up again is quite frightening.