I hadn’t revisited any of the places burnt out during the Black Saturday fires of 2009. I think of them often though. Standing in my dressing gown on foggy winter mornings as I go out to get the paper, I often think of Marysville where I spent several September school holidays as a child. The air has that same cold, wet feel, and you can smell the soil and the trees. I would dearly love to be able to return to stay in a little faux-Tudor guest house with a name starting ‘Mary…’. Marylands, Mary Lyn- it wouldn’t matter really. But the economics of the guest house concept, fire regulations, demands for ensuites and the sophistication that sneers at the joys of table-tennis and croquet etc. will conspire to make this an impossibility, I’m afraid.
But Kinglake is still there, just up the road a bit. For a long time I felt reluctant to go there just to rubber-neck, and I still do feel a little voyeuristic. But three years have passed, and I know that Kinglake is “open for business” and perhaps I don’t need to feel so diffident any more.
It’s still fairly clear as you drive along the Kinglake Rd that there has been a large fire here. The bright green furze that grew onto the tree trunks over the first winter has now faded to a more normal eucalyptus green and many small sapling are growing underneath the burnt out trunks.
A number of bushfire-recovery services started up in the wake of the fires. They are still there.
The sheer scale of the fire is most apparent when you see a whole mountain still bare covered with what looks like matchsticks.