Read the transcript for Episode 7 of the Voice of Real Australia podcast: When wilderness escapes become death traps

Tom Melville 00:00

Hi, I'm Tom Melville. Welcome to voice of real Australia. Each episode we bring new people, places and perspectives from beyond the big cities. Before we begin a warning, this episode includes some course language and may not be suitable for everyone. As summer approaches and the days are getting hotter and hotter, some of us can't help but feel a sense of dread. It's fire season. The smell of sun scorched eucalypt reminds us of the suffocating smog of Black Summer lives, homes and confidence lost. Last summer's horror. bushfires made headlines around the world, highlighting concerns about climate change and prompting an independent inquiry in New South Wales. At least 34 people died in the unprecedented bushfire season during the hottest year on record. Our largely volunteer on fire services were overstretched. thousands of homes were destroyed. Andrew messenger is a reporter for the Northern Daily leader based in Tamworth. He takes us to the small New England communities of Torrington and Wytaliba wilderness escapes devastated by fire last year, before summer even began.

Louis Stoker 01:07

We actually had drops of rain It was like a full on pyroclastic event I was fighting fire and I was going. That's water. It's raining. And I went like "what?" And then I went "ah s**t", like I know what that means. It's like it's making its own weather. And I'm like yeah forget it, you're not going to put this out and then I thought... Shut up Peggy

Andrew Messenger 01:30

Louis Stoker is describing a pyrocumulonimbus cloud. It's essentially a thunderstorm generated by a bushfire. NASA calls them "the fire-breathing dragon of clouds." They don't tend to create much rain - but do create dry lightning. And wind. Winds can reach 100 kilometres per hour. Lou was caught right in the middle of it. I met him that night, November 8 2019, in an evacuation shelter in the New England town of Glen Innes. He was barefoot, covered in soot, wearing the same clothes he had been when the Kangawalla blaze burned through his home. The first words he said to me after I asked him what that was like to lose everything were: "Anyone who tells you that there's no such thing as climate change has got rocks in their head." That night he told me he would rebuild his home in the small village of Wytaliba. A year on, I caught up with Lou in his new home. He has two rooms, a bedroom and a living room, plus a roof made of corrugated iron. He's at the bottom of a small hill you have to hike to get there. And he's surrounded by animals, everything from dogs to birds and pigs. But there's a key difference between his new home and the one he lost.

Andrew Messenger 02:35

So we are in fact on the ground right now that you told me that you wanted to sort of build back underground, but I didn't realise you really, really really meant it.

Louis Stoker 02:45

You thought I was full of s**t.

Andrew Messenger 02:47

You really did it.

Louis Stoker 02:49

I always had the intention of going underground. Because it's much cooler. Like once I get this proper roof on, I want to go fully underground so that there is no like, because like who wants to be living in fear of fire like constantly and plus when it gets hot here it gets good and bloody hot. Like I've seen it 47 degrees. Yeah, right like it's cooking.

Andrew Messenger 03:10

2019 had been a bad year for the region. The New England was running out of water. Towns like Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Armidale were on their last few weeks of drinking water - Uralla's average rainfall is over 30 inches. They did run out of drinking water. Trees were dying or dead. Grass was brown in a region famous for green. Everything was dry. It was the hottest year in the history of the world. There had already been weeks of fires that year in February, destroying homes and farms near Inverell and Tenterfield, forcing the entire village of Tabulam to flee. During the winter respite, communities - and governments - were warned again and again to be prepared. But that was an impossible ask. The Black Summer began shockingly early, with the first fires sparked in July, still winter. In the first days of Spring, yet another massive blaze tore through homes just a few hundred metres outside Tenterfield. Firefighters traveled from every state and territory to do their service. The army of firefighters battled over 640 fires over about 140 days, the longest deployment in the history of the service. They didn't save everyone. Torrington is a town of about 100 in the New England region of NSW. The former mining settlement is now surrounded on all sides by conservation area. The small town is filled with your typical Australian dream homes among the gum trees, some of them a century old or older.

Richard Cork 04:33

A couple of different variants of people here the ones that like nature and everything else, the ones that have hopes of running stock and making a living. The ones that are on running away from some you know, city social situation or economics because it's cheap, where you can grow your own food and it seems to be cheaply get away from the problems of COVID-19 and the next lot and the next lot after that

Andrew Messenger 05:01

Richard Cork's home, which he built, is just a few hundred metres out of town, but it feels like the middle of the bush. It's home to dozens of birds, kangaroos, wallabies He calls it his open aviary. He's lived in the plot for 40 years.

Richard Cork 05:16

I have never actually put a number to the birds but dozens and dozens of birds but as species you know you've got your thrush, red tail finches you barred finches your all your other parrots, Crimson, King parrots and rosellas and lorikeets then your butcher birds and you magpies in Yeah, yeah, goes on. Birds of Prey and everything. You know, sometimes you see more just sitting on your veranda. I've always seen birds as being a good teacher of how we live together. And they world is pretty mean and you know you think it's nice and safe and flying around. But it's not always that easy. To me it's a sanctuary for them. Because humanity is driven you know most of nature out of their lives as well as out of the environments.

Andrew Messenger 06:07

Richard had warning that a backburn had broken its boundaries and was heading for his way ahead of a strong westerly. It had been anticipated for three days. The house was deemed undefendable. Richard fought for his piece of paradise anyway. He spent days preparing his property, switched on his home sprinklers then left for safety just ahead of the fire front. What did the fire looke like when it was approaching?

Richard Cork 06:27

An inferno, a wall a wall of doom really. You know, it was just all colors from gold, yellow, black , red purple. And in amongst that you've got little black pieces flying around in amongst the smoke. If you didn't have glasses, good glasses and a breathing mask, you were getting..

Andrew Messenger 06:51

In your eyes

Richard Cork 06:51

You're just couldn't do anything yeah.

Andrew Messenger 06:54

He lost a one bedroom unit in another part of town.

Richard Cork 06:57

Even the brass in the piano actually started to melt that's how hot it had gotten it's a fair...

Andrew Messenger 07:03

But he managed to save his home.

Andrew Messenger 07:04

The birds came back.

Richard Cork 07:04

The trees are still all black, I would say at least 45% maybe more won't come back. Nearly all of the pines, the casuarinas and the she-oaks and 50 year old she-oaks to put to round and just never going to come back.

Richard Cork 07:13

Yeah the birds came back. They don't have as much to eat this time as they did last time I think but, and the bees might not have as many flowers this year. Yeah

Andrew Messenger 07:42

Do you like living in a place where you can just fly up and say hello?

Stephen Elliot 07:48

Unless he's inside s**ting all over the place. Yes.

Andrew Messenger 07:51

Stephen Elliott lives in what is probably Torrington's oldest home. Built by his great grandfather about 130 years ago. The retired school teacher has one of the best views in town from his front verandah across the cleared green in the centre of Torrington. He grew up in Torrington. He retired here after a life as a science teacher in Sydney, among other jobs. He now spends his days taking count of the local flora and fauna.

Stephen Elliot 08:14

You cannot describe what a fire like that is like though. The closest thing I can think of to it would be the pictures of the attack on that village in Vietnam in the war

Andrew Messenger 08:25

My Lai

Stephen Elliot 08:26

My Lai yes. But at times it looked like up even the air was burning. You couldn't see anything much but smoke and flames.

Andrew Messenger 08:35

How long did that sort of period of total intensity go? Half an hour, and hour?

Stephen Elliot 08:41

Oh, no it was shorter.

Andrew Messenger 08:43

Yeah right.

Stephen Elliot 08:43

You know, within... from when that started burning here beside the house, to when it went over top of the hill was probably minutes. And the worst of it was over probably in 10 or 15 minutes.

Andrew Messenger 08:57

Torrington is surrounded on all four sides by nature. Eucalypts grow up almost to the eaves of some homes, which are scattered along the main road. What had been a natural retreat turned into a trap.

Stephen Elliot 09:09

Well, the leaves are full of volatile oils and when it gets really hot those oils come out and it's not just the leaves but the air around them that burns. Because it's bassically like getting an aerosol can and lighting it up. But that same sort of fire.

Andrew Messenger 09:25

Except it's an aerosol can the size the forest.

Stephen Elliot 09:27

Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Andrew Messenger 09:30

The fire came on from three sides. There was no way out.

Andrew Messenger 09:34

What's it like that wall of flame coming towards you sort of waiting for it to hit you?

Stephen Elliot 09:38

I'm pretty phlegmatic it was just waiting, watching. I' was just, you know, sorry. my wife had put the camera away in the car somewhere and I couldn't actually photograph any of it.

Andrew Messenger 09:54

That is pretty phlegmatic.

Andrew Messenger 09:56

Most residents took cover in the RFS shed in the middle of town. The building filled with smoke. Phones went down. People thought the world was ending. Stephen had a clear view of the whole thing.

Stephen Elliot 10:07

Nobody had any idea what was coming. People keep saying it's just unprecedented. Yeah, this is a fire out of hell. And for it happen in the spring rather than in the summer, I mean, there's something seriously weird about the bloody world. When we've had fires before, it's always been in the summertime. But 50 years ago, the bush to the northwest, which is where the fires always come from, was a mosaic of creeks that were running, and of hung swamps that were moist all the time and rocky escarpment, so fires tended to move in spits and spurts and burn out here and but everything was dry this time, there was no swaps, there were no creeks. It just jumped straight over the rocky outcrops with no barrier at all.

Andrew Messenger 11:05

When the smoke cleared, his home was still standing but his grandmother's house, the place where he grew up was lost.

Stephen Elliot 11:10

Unfortunately, the structures that did burn down were mostly old shacks like this one that were here from the early days they nearly all gone the others only this one left. I think there's one on the other side of town. And it's not nearly as old as this I don't think

Andrew Messenger 11:25

About a dozen houses were consumed by the fire but thankfully nobody was killed in Torrington but on the other side of the Great Dividing Range an hour and a half's drive away and why tell about where Lou now huddles in his underground house. Two people died on November 8 2019.

Andrew Messenger 11:42

Wytaliba was founded in 1989 as a multiple occupancies , as like a hippie commune sort of nudist place

Louis Stoker 11:47

Some people get around nude but it wasn't really a nudist farm as such but yeah, it's just people were like "live naturally" and people get their gear... well I do bloody come mid summer I've bloody garden naked you know like because it's too bloody hot do otherwise.

Andrew Messenger 12:03

Driving into the alternative community of Wytaliba is a bit of a challenge at the best of times. The single road is a maze of switchbacks through woods heading down into the Mann river valley. It's bitchumen, but definitely off the beaten track. There's only one bridge in and out. That's how they like it - an escape. That descent had always been among their best defences against fire; bushfires go quick up hills but slow down them. But if a fire somehow came down the track fast, they could be cut off, trapped, without any hope of assistance.

Andrew Messenger 12:33

How did November 8 start for you?

Phil Hine 12:35

A normal day. Definately a normal day.

Andrew Messenger 12:40

Did you have any idea what was gonna happen?

Phil Hine 12:42

No. I was fully aware there was fires all around in previous bushfire summers that had not been a problem

Andrew Messenger 12:49

November 8 started normally for most people in Wytaliba. The nearby Kangawalla blaze was caught within containment lines and was not considered a threat. It appeared as "Advice" on the Fires-Near-Me app. But tension built in the tight-knit community as they saw smoke in the distance and heard tales of the fires in Torrington. They could feel the temperature rising and the wind rising. Eventually it became a tornado with westerly gusts up to 83 kilometres an hour, and temperatures in the high 20s, well above average. It felt even hotter.

Phil Hine 13:19

From where I sit in my house. I could see the fires out in Torrington the smoke in that general direction

Andrew Messenger 13:26

Which is about 80 kilometres away.

Andrew Messenger 13:28

Phil Hine remembers the uncertainty on November 8. He's lived in the town for about 30 years and had a house on its west end, on a small ridgeline. What was going on? Nobody really knew.

Phil Hine 13:38

It was around about 2:30 that I rechecked the internet and went "Oh, okay". And yeah, pretty much shut the laptop and went out and just got all my fire hose and stuff at the ready. I had full tanks of water and had a firehouse I had a fire pump before I needed it. I was prepared. By 10 minutes to three. The school had been let out finishes at three o'clock normally they let them out a little bit early that day. And they all went "Whoa, something's going on". And by three o'clock. I had neighbours come over and say "what are you doing?" I said "I'm gonna evacuate if this gets any worse". By 10 past three I had evacuated.

Andrew Messenger 14:19

Yeah. And your house was on fire.

Phil Hine 14:21

And my house was on fire.

Andrew Messenger 14:23

Danielle Monk was working at the Wytaliba school tuck shop on the day of the fire.

Danielle Monk 14:28

Got the kids off the bus at 3:10, 3:15. Got them off the bus straight into the car. And then I went to my son's place which is a couple kilometres from my house. And went to another house to warn them. And then

Andrew Messenger 14:51

It was on you.

Danielle Monk 14:52

Yeah, like I only just got out. So...

Andrew Messenger 14:56

What would have happened if it did happen an hour earlier?

Danielle Monk 15:01

I hate to think, all the kids would have been trapped at the school. It would've been terrible.

Andrew Messenger 15:06

Danielle made it out of the fire zone.

Danielle Monk 15:09

Just got up there was just so grateful that I'd made it out. And then I got into town that's when Sophie, my daughter with the RFS rang me to say goodbye to me and stuff, because she didn't think that she was gonna make it. She's like "Aw it looks really bad mum I don't think I'm gonna make it I just love you heaps". And um

Andrew Messenger 15:31

When did you know she'd made it?

Danielle Monk 15:35

A couple of days.

Andrew Messenger 15:38

The Kangawalla fire had massively jumped containment lines and taken off. One minute it was at the top of the hill, the next they came under ember attack. Then the front hit them. It had crowned it had jumped to the tops of the trees and was leaping kilometres at a time. Much of the school was destroyed.

Andrew Messenger 15:53

The uncertainty, was that the worst bit or?

Danielle Monk 15:56

Driving away, knowing that I'd gotten out that was the worst bit.

Danielle Monk 16:03

Aw, that I'd gotten out and left people behind. You know, for the people that didn't make it out. And that when where I just happen to walk outside. It's just happened to be the school time. Otherwise it would have been at my place without me even knowing it was there I would have been inside. Getting away from the heat.

Andrew Messenger 16:03

Why's that?

Andrew Messenger 16:26

Like about half the community, Bruce Walker is a member of the local RFS Brigade. In September they'd already fought and beat an emergency-level bushfire. It is a matter of record that just two RFS trucks made it into Wytaliba from outside that day. The Reddestone RFS drove over a burning bridge on the only road in or out of the village, briefly before it blew up. With just a pair of local trucks it was every man and woman for themselves. Bruce did his best to defend. He fought for and lost his brother's house but was able to save his own thanks to a bit of luck and some light fingers.

Bruce Walker 17:01

If I hadn't looted my brother's house after I tried to save it, saw I wasn't gonna, and I saw a one inch joinery. "I've got a funny feeling I need one of them". And I grabbed this one inch joiner out of his bucket. I looted to a burning house (my brother's it's cool). But turns out then when my gardens burned, the T-piece there was like pissing out my tank so I was losing my tank of water and my tank caught fire three times. If I had not had a one inch Philmac fitting that I was able to hook my little Honda pump up to and spray it on that on that tank that would have burned we would have run out of water the fire truck would run out of water and I would have lost my home and possibly our lives. So you know it's a crazy little world isn't it.

Andrew Messenger 17:46

In the west end of the hilly, scattered property, that was hit first, sadly, two people didn't make it out at all. George Nole was killed on site. Vivian Chaplain died in a Sydney hospital of her severe injuries. A dozen more people were injured. One of them going to the aid of one of the people who died. Bruce and Danielle said the community of Wytaliba is founded on looking at for one another.

Bruce Walker 18:07

I mean, but there was an extraordinary day. You know, like normally we can all, we all go around and help each other. We would help our neighbours and things this was like one of those weird things where it hit everywhere at once.

Danielle Monk 18:19

It's like every man for himself.

Andrew Messenger 18:21

The Black Summer bushfires lasted another three months; Australia's worst ever fire season lasted 240 days. And for these communities the effects have lasted a lot longer. In the history of Australia there has never been as many fires threatening life and property burning at the same time as that day, November 8. A record 17 emergency level blazes burned at once, a wall of flame stretching from the Queensland border through much of NSW. Many survivors believe the RFS was simply overwhelmed that day, something that the service virtually admitted to in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry. The Inquiry quotes advice from the NSW RFS that "a major challenge was the large number and size of fires running simultaneously." They cite November 8. The NSW government declared a state of emergency on November 11. The Black Summer bushfires went on to kill another 32 people, demolish over 9000 homes and other structures. They killed over a billion animals. Caused over 100 billion dollars of damage. And they blanketed Australia's cities in a satanic pall of smoke for months, toxic gunk which is estimated to have choked to death another 445 people.

Andrew Messenger 19:36

Danielle returned to Wytaliba a couple of days after the disaster.

Danielle Monk 19:40

I was coming back and everything was dead, everything. Like it just didn't look like this place. It looked like something on Mars. I didn't recognise it at all. It was like similar to what you'd expect an atom bomb to make or something.

Bruce Walker 19:59

I'll be back I'm going to get a mixer.

Andrew Messenger 20:01

It was all black, I remember it.

Danielle Monk 20:02

Good luck Bruce.

Bruce Walker 20:02

I don't really need luck I know where it is.

Danielle Monk 20:06

Yeah, well.

Andrew Messenger 20:07

I remember the river being filled with black sort of sludge sh**t, just completely filled with it.

Danielle Monk 20:14

Yeah, that was from the rain

Andrew Messenger 20:15

Right.

Danielle Monk 20:16

So the rain put in all that black sludge because that was all run off. And it just yeah, little sludgy and bubbly and disgusting, killing everything.

Andrew Messenger 20:26

Phil Hine spent months sleeping in his car, a $73,000 Tesla he'd bought just days before last year's bushfires. Australia's most expensive homelessness shelter. Because it's electric he could run the engine and keep warm without fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. He's just recently moved back into a new house on the same plot. It cost him the last of his savings. The vast majority of the community was not fire insured.

Andrew Messenger 20:51

How much am how much blood, sweat and tears did this cost you?

Phil Hine 20:54

The building alone was 150,000. And there's still infrastructure to go in, such as electricity. I got $1,000 support from the government one month after the fires like everybody else. Yes. And no further support from the government at all.

Andrew Messenger 21:10

They didn't clean up your plot, though?

Phil Hine 21:12

Oh, well, I cleaned the plot before they got here and made a pile of my stuff. And they cleaned that away for me. Yes. I appreciate that. Thank you government.

Andrew Messenger 21:22

I take it that Wytaliba isn't... the community would have expected a little bit more than that. Maybe?

Phil Hine 21:29

No, I don't think so. I think people that have lived here for some time get used to the fact that you left in the lurch, you are left remote.

Andrew Messenger 21:37

He's actually better off than most. Many people are still homeless, living in tents or caravans, or in Glen Innes. Some will never return. There's another problem. The west end of Wytaliba was pretty much wiped out. Most of Phil's neighbours are gone or broke. That means there's nobody to share the cost of joint infrastructure like a local water connection. In a multiple occupancy commune like Wytaliba there aren't many council services and residents tend to have to pick up the tab even for the basics.

Phil Hine 22:04

Well, there's only half a dozen to try and repair a waterline that used to have 22 on it. Yeah. And we don't have the money to repair the line. We will repair the line. It's just a matter of time. We gotta wait for some new residents to move in. As Wytaliba grows into its new future.

Andrew Messenger 22:24

Are you seeing people interested in moving to...

Phil Hine 22:26

No. It's not an encouraging thing to move to somewhere where 50 houses get burnt down?

Andrew Messenger 22:32

Yeah.

Phil Hine 22:34

At this stage, I have not met any new person that's wanted to come and live here. I hadn't run into the odd person that goes Wow, what a beautiful place. But they haven't said "Wow, what a beautiful place. I'd like to come and live here".

Andrew Messenger 22:49

For the first time, the Glen Innes Severn Council will require the locals to get development approval. It's a major financial and even ideological challenge for a community founded as a hippie commune. One resident, Wytaliba RFS Captain Kym Jermey, told me earlier this year he would expect the community to shrink by half, with many village residents unable to afford to pay to meet new requirements. Lou Stoker has rebuilt - in a way. After fire and floods he decided the best place for him was underground.

Andrew Messenger 23:16

You've got a tin roof, you've got solid rock walls. And then this is your living room. And then you got a bedroom over there.

Louis Stoker 23:22

Got a tunnel to the bedroom. Yeah, it's better than down, like where I set up that caravan. It flush flooded six bloody times. I had the dogs loaded on the mattress and I was standing knee deep in floodwater holding the mattress so they didn't get swept away it was like...

Andrew Messenger 23:40

After being burnt out.

Louis Stoker 23:41

Yeah, I looked at the heavens and said, God, you've got a tremendous sense of humor.

Andrew Messenger 23:46

That's right, after years of drought and a horror bushfire, Wytaliba repeatedly flooded earlier this year. The ford replacement for the only village bridge was washed out half a dozen times, completely isolating the community from everywhere else again. For Danielle the consequences will last even longer. All that smoke that went into her lungs has severely affected her health.

Danielle Monk 24:10

I have trouble walking any distance over 50 metres 100 metres. I have difficulty just doing anything that even exerts myself. Sometimes I have trouble turning over on my pillow of a nighttime in bed. I get that breathless just my lungs are that bad. Just the simple act of turning over. Well, I know it's definitely shortened my life life is totally changed what I can do and what I can't do.

Andrew Messenger 24:47

Every person responds to tragedy differently. Most agreed that living among the ruins of last year's bushfires had affected their mental health. To be reminded of that awful day first thing in the morning and last thing at night for months was a constant punishment. Plus, lives were on hold in both Wytaliba and Torrington. Everything was waiting until cleanup, first estimated to be done by June, then postponed. Torrington resident Thomas Evans plans to rebuild.

Andrew Messenger 25:15

So a year on, how are you going? You lost your house, obviously, what's happened since?

Thomas Eveans 25:21

A lot of depressing moments in all honesty, because it took so long for things to start happening with cleanups and all that sort of thing. It was hard to do stuff to actually feel like you were doing something and getting motivated again, and it's really only in the last few months since clean up finished and a little bit of the problem area bush has been cleared a little bit. So it's only since then, really that I've started moving forward and planning and got a house kit on site in a shed kit on site now.

Andrew Messenger 25:59

Thomas Eveans will need to spend about $300,000 to rebuild his fire insurance covers about half of that.

Thomas Eveans 26:06

And really it's been quite numb. The whole... everyone I think around the place is still numb to a point and still a bit angry and trying to get over things. People still very, very much in that yesterday place I suppose.

Andrew Messenger 26:25

Many residents told me the RFS should attack future fire starts with what are called remote area firefighting teams, before they become an unstoppable inferno. Both The NSW Bushfire Inquiry listened. Its 45th recommendation says fire authorities ought to put more emphasis those RAFT teams, highly-trained experts, often deployed by helicopter in wilderness areas. It said their efforts should take priority even above fire suppression operations like backburning, where backed by a risk assessment. But residents have had less luck with another ask: buffer zones. Thomas, like other residents, told me, if the trees had been cleared in a protective buffer zone arou nd the town, it may have been a very different story. Residents are still asking.

Thomas Eveans 27:09

We still need that 50 metre zone, we've probably got close to it. But I would like to see it a lot more than that. You know, because everyone around here and these places that have been burned out, we haven't been able to clear around their properties. And that is just wrong. Totally wrong. You know, we should be able to safeguard our investments as such and our lives. It needs a lot more work around the place to get things back in check to the way they should be and into a situation where it was what we could call safe. A lot of it is just things with, I guess the Parks and Wildlife and Lands Department so not being able to keep up because of budget cutbacks and things like that they can't do their job and function properly. And really, they do have their responsibility. I think

Andrew Messenger 27:56

Torrington naturalist and nature photographer Stephen Elliot is now snapping photos of recovering fauna as part of the bushfire regeneration project, an effort started by a student at the University of New South Wales. It's an area he knows pretty well.

Stephen Elliot 28:10

I took on my first solo exhibition, expedition sorry, into the bush when I was maybe five years old. I mean, when I grew up, we were still reading books about, you know, explorers and wilderness. We didn't realise that, you know, the wilderness in our lifetime was going to go forever that there would be no more wilderness. And even in the wilderness areas here, I mean, it's now got a road right through the middle of it, which was very accessible, but also means there's a lot more pressure on it than there was in the past.

Andrew Messenger 28:46

The Black Summer was the first massive fire through the Torrington area, a region which never used to burn, he said. But it won't be the last. Stephen said the November blaze is just the harbinger of what is to come.

Stephen Elliot 28:58

Well, just that climate change is the biggest issue and if the trajectory of climate change continues as it is here, and eventually this area will become uninhabitable because the fire danger will just simply be too great. And the bush probably won't be there becasue it will burn her ground. Even in my lifetime, the the difference in the climate is remarkable. You know, over a short period like that. And then nothing's being done about it, so there's no reason to assume it's not going to continue to get worse. I see in the paper today they're talking about southern cities in the not too far distant future having temperatures of 50 degrees.

Tom Melville 29:40

Torrington resident Stephen Elliot, finishing that story from Andrew Messenger of the Northern Daily Leader.

Tom Melville 29:45

That's it for this episode of Voice of Real Australia. Thank you so much for listening. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. I'll be back in two weeks. If you like the podcast please share it with friends and give us a five star rating on Apple Podcasts. If you'd like to share yours email voice@austcommunitymedia.com.au that's voice@austcommunitymedia.com.au our Facebook pages facebook.com/voiceofrealaustralia. Voice of Real Australia is recorded in the studios of the Newcastle Herald. It's produced by Laura Corrigan and me, your host, Tom Melville. Our editors are Gayle Tomlinson and Chad Watson. Special thanks this week go to Fiona Ferguson. This is an ACM podcast

This story Voice of Real Australia Episode 7 Transcript first appeared on Newcastle Herald.