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As Thousands Run To Beaches, Australia Fires Turn New Year Cheer To Fear

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As thousands fled to safety on Australian beaches from ferocious, red-hot and out-of-control fires licking at their very existence, this would have to be the most devastating New Year I have ever endured. 

And that is me–as a distant bystander in Sydney. Affected by the chronic smoke levels which have been spoiling the air and usual blue skies of the harbour city for weeks, yet far from the front-line of terror and hellish scenarios which are threatening any minute to extinguish entire towns

As the New Year approached, instead of making plans to head off to see the controversial Sydney fireworks display with friends, I was sobbing, uncontrollably, before my screen, reading the latest news of a terrifyingly escalating situation, spinning way out of control. 

From Beach Holiday To Beach Hell

Beaches are the epitome of the Australian summer. Now they have become a scene of desperation and panic as thousands are evacuated from usual cheery summer holiday spots and told to run for their lives … to the beach.

The sight of some 4,000 people seeking safety on Mallacoota beach in the southeastern state of Victoria on New Years Eve, under a sky turned menacingly blood red and hellish black shades, struck at the heart of the nation. The same “red hell” scenario may be repeated tenfold over coming days, weeks, months … 

As the flames closed in on the small East Gippsland town, people were handed out life jackets and told to ‘get in the water’.

The Australian coast–the symbolic lifeline of our connection to the world–has become a lifeline full stop. This is when we know collectively we are in deep water. Clinging to the coast for dear life. 

Antipodean Apocalypse For Dawn Of New Decade

The emergency warnings from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) over the past days read like a litany of horrors, as an Australian Armageddon rings in a new decade. 

“You could be impacted anytime within the next 30 minutes. Leaving now is the safest option, before conditions become too dangerous. Emergency services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay.” 

And the worst most heartbreaking alert, echoing in our ears after two months of hellfire: “It is too late to leave. Seek shelter as the fire approaches.” 

There is nothing that can quite make you feel so personally in danger, than when the usually heavenly Aussie beach turns into Hades. Thousands “trapped on the beach” read the headlines. The usual place of freedom and carefree summers turned into a human trap. 

Climate Change Denial: Government Fiddles As Australia Burns

Where does this end? Just to what extent does one have to fear for one’s life as an Australian, or an overseas holidaymaker? 

As 1000 firefighters defended the East Gippsland region, temperatures across the country hit highs of 39C-41C (105-109F)–after record national averages of 40.9C (105.6F) in December.

While the government continues to deny the well-established climate change driven fire hazards, the future’s looking grim for a happy start to the New Year in Australia.  

Australia is burning. Blazing furnace and furious. The skies are eternally menacing, and the environmental message hard to escape. In a scathing article, Man Booker Prize winning Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan compared Prime Minister, Scott Morrison to Nero (accused of playing the fiddle as Rome burned in 64 AD), for jumping ship during the fires; as much as for his ignorance on climate change, which has become the shame of the nation.

To ScoMo’s continual “We live in the best country in the world” gloating, Flanagan replied: 

“Actually, out of 57 countries recently rated on climate change action Australia is ranked 57th. Which is not best. Which is last. Which gives us the claim to be the worst country in the world on the most important problem facing mankind. Thanks Nero.” 

Scared Nation … What Does The Future Hold?

Fear not hope reigned in Australia on New Years Day, and continues to. And it, along with the eddying flames, is spreading like wildfire, engulfing the country in a thick haze of nebulous doubt for the future. 

‘If miraculously we survive this season of fires, what about the next?’ is the question many are asking in dread. 

There are only so many times such unbridled fury of nature can show mercy. As it is, some experts feel the extreme heat, drought and bushfires, have already turned the country into a “Hell on Earth”.



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