After the fires

Victorian Alps

The main focus on bushfires at present is – for very understandable reasons – on the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires of February 2009. The following are just some notes and reflections on recent fires in the Victorian Alps. Check the very end for some resources, responses  and stories from the 2009 fires.

Some sections of the Victorian Alps have been burnt three times since the summer of 2003. Some areas are devastated, others are recovering well. The following is series of images from around the mountains.

Unlike much of the lower elevation forests and woodlands, the sub-alpine country below the treeline isn’t too fire-adapted, meaning that often the parent trees in the snow gum and alpine ash forests are lost.

Alpine ash forests burnt in 2003

Alpine ash forests burnt in 2003. Buffalo Plateau

The Buffalo Plateau is an ‘island in the sky’ in terms of vegetation. It sits out from the main part of the Alps, on the drier north western side of the mountains. So, it is isolated from the mountain zones further in. It has a number of endemic species, trees and plants that exist no where else. It was a strong hold of old growth alpine ash forests but almost all of this was devastated in the fires of 2003. The regrowth is strong in many places, but I feel incredibly sad when I think about the fact that I will never see old growth like that up there again in my lifetime.

Fire mosaic of burnt & unburnt country, headwaters of the Dargo River

Fire mosaic of burnt & unburnt country, headwaters of the Dargo River

burnt hill top near Howmans Gap

burnt hill top near Howmans Gap

Just near Cope Hut, early Jan 2007

Just near Cope Hut, Bogong High Plains, early Jan 2007

regrowth in a swampy area just near King Saddle, about 3 months after the 2007 fires

regrowth in a swampy area just near King Saddle, about 3 months after the 2007 fires

Although the understorey burnt, the trees survived, fairly infrequent in fires in this forest type

Mt Stirling. Although the understorey burnt, the trees survived, fairly infrequent in fires in this forest type (alpine ash).

this image taken by Tali, in the Ash forests

this image taken by Tali, in the Ash forests on Mt Stirling

Ferns and alpine ash on Mt Stirling, autumn 2006

Ferns and alpine ash on Mt Stirling, autumn 2006

This snow gum forest on Mt Wills shows the signs of a cool burn. The top of the mountain was lucky - surrounding ridges were hard hit, with loss of large areas of alpine ash.

burnt snow gum, north side of The Bluff

the fires of February 2009

A story from Kinglake.

For some resources on responding to bushfire, check here.

A report on the fires from The Wilderness Society.

2 thoughts on “After the fires

  1. We have just travelled from Hotham to Bright and note the huge amount of an Acacia like bush that is taking over the bush floor and almost chocking new Ash growth. These “bushes” have an Acacia like leaf, a fragrance like a wattle but a yellow flower with a red centre. The flower look sa bit like an Egg and Bacon but it does not seem to be that. Can anyone advise me what these are whelergj@bigpond.com

    • hi Graeme
      sorry, not sure what they are, although they do sound a bit like the Egg & Bacon (eg Hop Bitter Pea, which from memory is quite common up there and which has a broad, veined kind of leaf not unlike an Acacia)

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