Australian Summer: Elements

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Comments (11)

Ian Stehbens on December 10, 2007

The crystal clear water of Lake Mackenzie spoke to me of the elements of the creation. Koreans may structure their world from the elements of water, fire, wind and earth, but for me the Australian summer is structured from the elements of water, fire, sand and sun...and to that list I might admit surf, breeze, snooze and seafood! Holidays here I come! Ian

© SisAnnick on December 11, 2007

Hi Ian, very artistic shot, sweet harmony of blue-grey and pleasant comments! Cheers :-) Annick

Marilyn Whiteley on December 11, 2007

The elements--the full list--sound good to me, and the photo is lovely, Ian. And here we head into winter ... Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on December 11, 2007

We are having a very gentle start to summer here, and it is hard to beat: just hovered on 23C today, 25C yesterday and this after some good rains over a period of about three weeks. So we head into a green summer here in Sydney. I am glad you both appreciate this image, one that I had enjoyed taking but thought it was confined to the storage file, but something someone said in our forum made me dig it out. If the element of fire stays in your list, Marilyn, then you are being a warm Canadian. We are not very keen (like Californians) on the element of fire during our summer - it can be disastrous - though I could confine it to a great barbecue. When you are next here, we'll "throw a 'shrimp' on the barbie" for you - to quote Paul Hogan. Then we can do a food cam shot for bartowian and have him wanting to come over too. Ian

Ian Stehbens on December 11, 2007

Dear Annick, Thanks for the recognition and appreciation. Lake Mackenzie is part of a pristine environment that is World Heritage listed. It deserves to be received with artistry, gentleness, and pleasure. And PS: You have been very busy uploading lately. Thankyou. Ian

Marilyn Whiteley on December 12, 2007

But Ian, wasn't that one of my pieces of learning on this trip--that fire has to stay on the list, for the sake of the eucalypts? Preferably controlled fire. I found that very interesting. (Personally I'd prefer it in a barbecue--or in the form of sunshine for which I'm longing in Ontario right now; it's so cloudy and dull.) Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on December 12, 2007

Ah, you are so spot on Marilyn. Then, I have a radical perspective on this - perhaps I might have on a few other topics as well. The evidence points to the fact that much of our wonderful Eucalypt and associated biomes are actually not natural but rather they are human creations - the consequence of long histories of the use of "fire technology" by the indigenous people. There is a tendency to focus on the good management of the environment by indigenous societies, however there was also many different waves or patterns of use of the environment by them. While they use patterend low intensity burns to create a rich diversity of stages in the vegetation and therfore in the food supply, there was both widespread use, frequent use as well as uncontrolled wildfire attributable to their mistakes or bad practice. There is also their need to create grasslands and open forests as dominant communities. They did protect certain areas, and it was forbidden (use of curse to inhibit breaches of care) to burn some communities of plants, such as rain forest thickets in the north and east. And so I could ramble on, (or dsicipline myself and write a paper.) The second consideration is that there are areas where there has never been fire and they have completely different plant complexes than similar areas across the river or nearby. Such areas may be found in a tight bend of a river, or separated from other areas by an intervening swamp or geological outcrop. In these areas, I believe one sees what might have been far more widely had it not been for the human impact.

So what is natural?

Some quick responses I have heard is that it was lightning that starts the wildfires. Yes it does on the interior grasslands particularly, but in coastal areas a strike may destroy a tree, but the storm is mostly accompanied by rain, though in the interior the storms can be highly charged electric events with little or no rain. A dry storm can start forty or sixty fires as it drifts. But in the coastal regions where I have lived there has never been a wildfire started by an electrical storm, to my knowledge. The further south one goes in summer the more the likelihood, and as I said in the interior that is a reasonably common phenomena.

When the first Europeans ventured on to the Blue Mountains plateau, most of the plateau was completely burnt. That is not the case today, though periodically there are severe outbreaks, usually lit by an arsonist (male aged between 12 and 28).

Another aspect of this story is that in the Gympie-Maryborough area, for example, the indigenous Kabi kabi resisted the newly arrived pastoral squatters by using fire as their weapon of attack. A mob of sheep could be burnt with one ring of fire. The pastures could be completely burnt so that there was no fodder. The early pastoral fromntiersmen of Margaret's ancestry described the country as being abalze from horizon to horizon during the day and a glowing inferno at night. Apocalyptic. And the indigenous people won the first round, but lost the subsequent rounds.

Well your simple remark of lesson learnt so well didn't need this espistle, but knowing your curiosity by now, and your generous spirit, I may be indulged and forgiven.

Enjoy a hot chocolate and keep warm around a glowing fire. Blessings for Christmas. Ian

Marilyn Whiteley on December 12, 2007

Sincere thanks for two things, Ian: first for the information, and second for recognizing that I would find the information very interesting--and thought provoking! So I appreciate your taking the time to write. Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on December 13, 2007

Dear Marilyn, There is a new posting for you, that is a next response to our conversation about fire in the Australian environment. I am confident you will value the art as well as the commentary. See the Irrkerlantye painting. Ian

EVA_L on December 19, 2007
esseil panoramio on January 27, 2008

Dear Ian Stehbens, I choose this photo to come to thank you for the beautiful comment that have done me! You are very kind and the thing has done me a lot of favor. He has been a pleasure to meet you another time and also I will stop better me on your job: Panoramio is great indeed for the possibility of it stuffed to know friends and the I work of them.Many thanks and a my best regards from Italy. esseil

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Photo taken in Great Sandy National Park, Cooloola QLD 4581, Australia

Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 10, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens