By Kelly Donati
In early January 2020, hitting the refresh button on The Guardian punctuated my waking hours as I obsessively tracked the movement of the bushfires from Munich. Watching from afar, sleep grew elusive. Just as I was meant to be drifting off, people along the east coast of Australia were waking up—if they had slept at all—to appraise the destruction and gather their wits for another day of fire-fighting, evacuation, or just waiting. It was a time in which breath did not come easy.
By Cameron Muir
The smoke has been here hanging all day or blowing in of an evening for weeks now. The kids have been indoors most of this time. Even for the last two weeks of school, before the summer holidays, they were ordered to stay inside and spent their lunches and recesses in the classroom or hall because of the heatwaves.
By Ruth Morgan
For me, the Savage Summer was televised, unfolding in my family’s living room in Perth and then a hotel room in Ooty in southern India. I’d expected locals there to ask me about cricket, but all they wanted to talk about were the bushfires that had seemingly engulfed the entire continent.
By Rob Waters
Listen to a spoken-word poem about the fires and their impact on the land.
By Kate Wright
I’m seven years old dancing to Buddy Holly on a red rug. The warm crackle of the stylus on the vinyl rhymes with the burning wood hissing on the open fire. Carbon, once captured and condensed into living forests, is rapidly escaping its cellulose confines.
By Anna Pilz
I have never set foot on the continent called Australia. I am unfamiliar with its beaches, bushlands, deserts, and cityscapes, with their sounds and smells, colours and textures. It is a place far away that I encountered mostly in my studies on nineteenth-century Ireland. I have travelled there in my imagination alongside thousands of Irish migrants who were shipped to or set sail for the new colony in attempts to leave famine-stricken Ireland.
By Jessica White
In November 2019, before I flew to Munich, I stayed with my parents in Armidale, New South Wales. National parks, farms, and properties between the town and the coast were on fire and, depending on the wind, the grey-brown miasma of smoke blocked out the blue sky. The town was on level five restrictions, limiting residents to 160 litres of water per person per day.
By Susan Ballard
At first, there are only a couple of photos. The usual places: the Guardian, Instagram, Facebook. I trace the fire as it creeps down and across the Southern Highlands, through the deep gullies of the Blue Mountains, and suddenly flares across the South Coast. I keep half an eye on the glistening diamonds placed carefully by the Rural Fire Service on their Fires Near Me app.
By Jayne Regan
The destructive scale of the 2019-2020 Australian fire season was reported around the world. This multilingual bibliography—collated with the help of RCC associates—offers a sample of online material relating to the fires, published within Australia and without.