There were many different bushfire experiences growing up on Sydney's Northern Beaches... there was one time we stood atop Beacon Hill one early summer evening when we could literally see a ring of fire glowing all around us within a few miles distant...
Where I grew-up, our place was about two blocks away from a large bush reserve, commonly known as Manly Dam, in Allambie (Sydney). About every 6-8 years-or-so it would burn itself out, in the naturally-occurring cycle of the Aussie bush... sometimes naturally, sometimes man-induced (such as with a broken piece of glass doubling as a magnifying glass on a hot summers' day). While our place was never under major threat of any immediate danger or damage, we used to worry about the occasional hot falling ash if it all went up. Some of the houses that backed onto the bush reserve didn't fare much better each time. One or two went up in my time there (about 20-ish years).
This one year (I would have been about 14), the far side of the hill went up, on the other side of the dam reservoir. A group of us rode our pushies (ie push bikes) up besides the dam wall, where we could get a good showing of the fire. Little did we know...
The fire came roaring down the thickly wooded hill. And I mean ROARING - it was that loud. It was about 1-2 kms away (about a mile) right in front if us, but traveling parallel to us. Trees were exploding - no, I'm not kidding or exaggerating. As it steamrolled down the hill, gaining speed as it consumed everything in its path, it seriously began to boil. Boil.
Boiling... kinda like the top-left of this pic too.
The heat on our faces and clothes was extraordinary. The air was physically being sucked into the fire... I could feel the air on my legs behind me as I faced the fire... but the actual breeze was blowing from left-to-right.
While where we were standing we weren't in any immediate danger, a firetruck came screaming past us, and we copped a fair-mouthful of abuse from them as they roared past to basically "get the fuck out of here!!!"
Needless to say, we got the heck out of there toot-quick on our bikes, back down the road the other way.
The fire burnt itself out when it reached the water's edge... and no homes were lost - that time.
I went for a walk thru the area a few days later - and there was NOTHING left in places... no stumps, nothing. Just totally wiped out.
But I'll never forget the sight of a hillside literally boiling with fire... rolling down the hill.
Peas be with ewe
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