Melbourne ,Victoria,Australia. I have been here twice this year and didn’t really expect to be here at all.I really feel at home in Melbourne.My very first flying job in Australia was based here at the Essendon Airport and I can really appreciate my good fortune now.It was 1999 and as fate would have it I would be ringing in the new millennium in Melbourne.
How to describe Melbourne? Well, its like Seattle,Vancouver and the quainter parts of Victoria B.C. but with a busier,transient,office worker extremely outgoing, friendly feel. I had a day off today from the depressing, mind crippling fires in the area. I headed downtown ,because, despite my aversion to crowds and the sensory overload I needed to be alone but not lonely.This is the perfect town to do that in. I fast walked the streets. You have no choice. There is only one speed to walk here and that is fast. Not frantic fast like most big cities but break free fast like the joggers who zip past sweaty tee shirts slapped over their executive frames. Office workers quick step off to the parks, coffee shops,bistros,restaurants and side alley pubs.People are happy here. Tourists are gee whizzing the place and not even bothering to be half sly doing it. I walk with my camera pointed in front of me. Snap, snap and folks with big smiles for my shots. Shopkeepers ask me where I am from and then seeing my Erickson Firefighting logo on my shirt, spend minutes thanking me for our efforts on the fires. A dozen people in different shops and everyone has a story.
I talk to people who have lost loved ones in the fires around Melbourne. I can only say that I am sorry, but they won’t let me. No, you have helped, they tell me. I can’t say what I want to say. There are things that I know about living through fires that so many people should have known. I’ll write about it soon,but for now I can only tell people that I am so sorry for their loss.
Its a fact that country folks are independent ,self reliant, good neighbors. I really feel bad for the towns around Melbourne that were so hard hit. The towns will rebuild. Houses can be rebuilt to higher codes to withstand a possible firestorm but from what I have seen, nothing could have saved the homes from some of these fires. People could still have lived, especially anyone with a patch of ground and a couple of days to prepare a shelter.
I really like this city of Melbourne and the towns around here. This fire event didn’t have to be this bad and I feel all the worse for knowing that fact.