Black Saturday by bootload (Flickr)


Like many Victorians, I knew a few people who lost loved ones in the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. It was a devastating time, obviously for those who were directly involved, but also for people all over the country who were watching in horror from their lounge-rooms. The powerful images that aired during the fires, and the terrifying stories that came out in the aftermath, will remain firmly etched in my mind.

In the 18 months prior to Black Saturday, I had been a regular visitor to the bush surrounding Kinglake and Marysville. They are still two of my favourite areas in the state. So I have to admit that, without detracting from the tragic human cost, I also found it sad to watch the destruction of the forest and the certain death of much of the wildlife that I had spent so much time enjoying.

There are at least a couple of other documentaries about Black Saturday that I know of (the best of which was ABC’s brilliant production, Inside the Firestorm), but they focus on the human perspective. Out of the Ashes tells the Black Saturday story with a focus on the flora and fauna, explaining how the fires affected them and how their recovery has progressed. It is beautifully shot and the interviews with bushfire experts, survivors, rangers and animal rescue staff are incredibly touching.

Since the fires I have been revisiting the affected areas whenever possible, as walking tracks have reopened. Watching the forest come back to life over time has been – and continues to be – an amazing experience. It will be even more interesting to visit in future, with the extra knowledge and insight that I’ve gained from watching Out of the Ashes.

Buy Out of The Ashes on DVD from the ABC Shop (title no longer available)

Have you seen Out of the Ashes? What do you think? If you have anything to say, please leave a comment below. Are you interested in more from Bushwalking Blog? You can either sign up for e-mail updates in the side-bar, or get updates via the RSS feed, Facebook or Twitter.