I remember when the first started on our farm on Jan 25th 2005 - what a great early Australia Day present. It quickly jumped the road, accelerated by a furnace wind and scorching temperatures, it breached our meagre firebreak and raced across the paddocks. It was with a strange mix of dread and disbelief that we watched the flames razing our precious farm and threatening all that we loved and treasured. But we were lucky. We were saved by two very important factors that converged on that fateful day and magically beat back the worst impulses of the wildfire. Firstly the brave and gallant fire crews work tirelessly with ground and air attacks that held the fire at bay, and perhaps most importantly, our farm design, enacted years earlier with the right plants in the right place and with the right management, slowed the fire down to the point where the crews could get the upper hand. Catastrophe diverted.
That blackened day taught me so much about the need for the right action. Only with careful design, taking account of the great variables of climate, fuel loads, landscape layout and risk and threats could we navigate a way to create a landscape that was at once more firesafe, more climate resilient, productive and sustainable. It has strengthened my resolve to show people what we face in these uncertain times and that the only defence we have, the only way forward is to plan and plan well, creating land based systems that have the spirit, the components and inbuilt features to adequately weather all that the future conditions will throw at us. It is a bitter truth to accept but we need to recognise that our landscapes will continue to reel under the impacts of climate change, drought and the impacts of fire. But my 25 years of landcare teaching has shown me time and time again that well designed and managed properties are always the once that look the best, grow the most and survive and recover best from all that nature can dish out.
Before and After on my farm at Greenacre - 12 years of Landcare