Lessons from Travels: Bush Fire

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.

The next day the sky was filled with smoke as we approached the line of fire.

Our driver guide insisted we stay in the bus when we reached the fire, so the photo had to be through the windshield.

The fire extended to the horizon, but in any particular spot it was a narrow line.

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.

The Daly Waters Pub is located, as are many settlements and rest stops, at watering areas.

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.

The walls are covered with souvenirs nailed there by patrons. Common items are currency and undergarments.

Ah, Australia.



  1. Hal Atherton said,

    November 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Which did you nail there?

    • natureinquiries said,

      November 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

      You can’t tell from the photo?

  2. Hal Atherton said,

    November 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Oh yes. I see it now.

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