by Carl Strang
Yesterday’s literature review post mentioned how rainforest areas of Australia can have fires around their edges encouraged by the flammable bark shed by eucalypt trees. Much of Australia is very dry, in contrast, and bush fire is a routine aspect of ecosystems there. During my trip Down Under in 2000 I had the opportunity to witness one of those fires. In that part of the trip I was taking a bus tour from central Alice Springs to the north coast city of Darwin. One night along the way we could see a glow on the northern horizon from our camp.
Our driver guide insisted we stay in the bus when we reached the fire, so the photo had to be through the windshield.
As is true of our prairies, the plants and animals of the Australian central desert all are fire adapted. This experience provided the opportunity to see a scene that once would have been common here as well (though Australia’s desert is shrub dominated rather than grass dominated). We passed through the fire line in the morning, and the lunch stop was at one of Australia’s most famous pubs.
I had read about this pub, and was overjoyed to see that it was on the tour itinerary. Inside, there was no sign of concern that a bush fire was in the vicinity.