The poem “Said Hanrahan” by John O’Brien (see http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/obrienj/poetry/hanrahan.html) catalogues Hanrahan’s predictions of financial ruin for farmers due to the successive catastrophes of drought, then flood, then fire.
We’ve seen precisely this sequence of events for large areas of Australia over the past two or three years. The La Niña effect which brought record rainfall and extensive flooding to eastern and northern Australia late last year and early this year ended a long period of drought in many areas, but in its wake produced strong growth of grass. The Outback looks greener than usual in many parts. On a recent trip, we saw many prosperous-looking kangaroos, and lots of emus with chicks.
But now, with warmer Spring weather arriving, grass fires are being reported from many quarters. My daughter and grandson were a few days ago prevented from visiting King’s Canyon by fires. Yesterday I travelled on the Hume Highway from Sydney to Wagga, and drove through heavy smoke — presumably from grass fires, but maybe back-burning –between Jugiong and Gundagai.
The Simpson Desert crossing has been reported as closed, with some five million hectares burnt out. Other fires are said to be burning near the Birdsville Track, Hamilton Station (north of Oodnadatta), north of Alice Springs, and between Innamincka and Moomba.