INFERNO DOWN BELOW: Like the world's tornadoes and floods, Australia's fires have been named over the years. Now we could call them 'eternal fires'. Can the incredible tragedies we witnessed be the start of a brighter future for Australia?

Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for MODERN TIMES.
Email: ranveig.eckhoff@posteo.net
Published: 2020-01-10

Sydney is a great city with world famous architecture and modern infrastructure. It's a relatively clear day. Gigantic cruise ships are docked. Next to them, the spectacular opera house will be tiny, but that's the inside I'm on my way to tonight. Puccini's 'La Boheme'. There are rhinestones and long dresses. Exuberant refreshments during the break. Singers and orchestra perform their best, and there are many moist eyes to trace after Mimi's lung disease exhales in Rodolfo's arms and we are heading out into the night.

Everything is normal. Until we are stopped by a person with a gun in their hands, with the inscription "For our firefighters". Many donate. Even in the great country - the continent - Australia, and even when avoiding places that are burning right now, it is impossible to travel without knowing the disaster.

I even arrived Adelaide Hills on the south coast in November. A few days of extreme heat and threatening winds provided a warning for what was to come. Coincidentally, I had traveled on then forest firesa ravaged area and destroyed land and property. John, my landlady, lost his best friend, who defied four roadblocks in trying to save his home.

Likewise - after leaving Kangaroo Island and the unique Flinders Chase National Park, where I wander through pristine forests with rare birds, kangaroo og koala, comes the reports of the destruction. The island was nicknamed Noah's Ark and was a refuge for about fifty thousand koalas, half of whom are now killed. Are the koalas I photographed in the eucalyptus trees among those who have joined, among the billions of animals lost in the flames?

Koala
Photo: Ranveig Eckhoff

Forest fires are a known phenomenon on this arid continent. But the scope is new.

Burnt, coal-black landscapes, burning earth and thousands of wasted wildlife are images that make the island I visited unrecognizable.

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Tens of thousands flee

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