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The big bush fires of 2020

Let's look back a year to the Gospers Mountain bush fire.

Last year I drove to Mudgee and there were burnt trees on my right almost the whole distance from the turnoff near Wallerawang. Going to Bulahdelah I saw burnt trees beside the road from Lithgow to Bell, on to Kurrajong and for most of the Putty Road. A train trip from Lithgow to Mount Victoria showed how close the fire came to Blue Mountains towns once it got into the Grose Valley.

That wasn't the only fire, just the biggest. Kanangra-Boyd National Park will take a long time to recover, Tumbarumba's timber industry took a huge hit and I just got back from Macksville, driving through the remnants of the fires in the Northern Rivers area.

Over the last two weekends I've seen the extent of the Great Wattle Creek fire – the one nearest to Oberon. I drove to Jenolan and down Kanangra Walls Road through the national park. The following weekend I went to Wombeyan Caves in the southern part of the same burnt area.

It takes road trips like these to bring home the size of the fires and the damage they did. It will all come back to life but it's going to take years. Evidence of the 2013 fires between Lithgow and Bell was still very visible before it all started again in 2019.

The driving I have to do for media coverage of rallies will give me reminders for a long time to come.

This letter was sent to the Oberon Review on January 6, 2021

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