December (Canberra summer) — Caught in transition.

I feel compelled to take photos, both of the mundane and the unusual, as if to bear witness that these places, things, people and creatures, once existed and that they mattered.

The clouds swirl.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


A land in transition.

both sides
A patch of green in a sea of brown lifts the spirits.

If there is water, they will come.  It will not last.  It is drying times.

egret & snipe.jpg
Intermediate Egret flies in to inspect a Latham Snipe (migratory bird from Japan)

The parched land is as cruel as it is beautiful.


How do you like your steak?  Rare or well-done?

Cattle, including many calves, on a 40c degree day and no shade.

The children pay for the sins of the fathers.

rufous whistler chick
A heat stressed Rufous Whistler chick.

Now the fathers are paying too.

hot sparrow
A heat stressed male sparrow.

Should we stay or should we go?  A wrong decision could cost you your life.

Fire danger rated catastrophic (I’m not sure why the lights did not come out in the photo) and a Total Fire Ban day.  The smoke was thick and acrid.

The future of the Australian wine industry looks bleak.


I wonder how we will continue to feed ourselves as global food shortages loom?


Shall we let the market decide?  The winner takes it all?

The cattle again.  Acrid smoke added to the 40c degree day.

When we have plundered and polluted our water sources and bled our country dry, what then?  What’s your contingency plan, ladies and gents of the government?  Trucking water to millions?  Or pray for rain?

water truck
Truck carting water to properties that have run out of water?

Has it come to this?
A fine smoke haze tinged red, pink and gold over once fertile plains.


I can’t stand you apocalyptic types, you say.
Instead you proclaim Aussies innovative.  We have spirit.  We will thrive.
Adaptation is the way to go.

That’s a lot of faith not backed up by serious action,
Fortunately for you, managing climate risk is the responsibility of the states.

grass parrots.jpg

You are hard like the ground that greets our plaintive, hungry cries with false promises.  With lies.  You are but a shell, a mere carapace.

magpies on the run.jpg

The children do not have your faith.  Not any more.

hot hungry magpie chick.jpg

And me?


I didn’t know.
Someone should have told me so that I could have had the chance to say goodbye.

street tree succumbs
One of our local street trees succumbs.  More are tragically gasping their last breath.

I wake to a new dawn, a new decade, and I’m terrified.


I worked for almost 30 years in the Australian Public Service, providing impartial policy advice on a range of industry and regulatory matters, including on programs to assist industry to transition to a low carbon economy.

While the photos and the words in this post, paint a bleak picture, it is nothing compared to the photos and stories coming from the people directly affected by the firestorms in Australia over the last few months and days.  It appears we may be witnessing ecosystem collapse. Right now.  I hope I’m being melodramatic.  I am terrified, but to ignore the dangers of unchecked anthropogenic climate change is to resign ourselves to more fires, more destruction, more death.  The science tells us so.  Let us re-build from these fires with a sustainable future in mind.  We can show the world that we really are innovative.

I am still waiting anxiously for news of my father and his partner, who are in the south coast fire zone.  [Update:  He finally made contact and is fine.]  I thank the firefighters for their efforts to protect lives and property, and all the communities in that area for banding together to support one another.  Many more lives and homes would have been lost if not for them.  There are also ferocious fires burning in other parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and West Australia.  A question never far from our minds is will we be next?  Another heatwave and strong winds are expected in the next couple of days.

gymea lily
Gymea Lily – Mogo (Nov 2019).  Mogo was decimated by the Clyde Mountain fire yesterday.

This is my response to The Changing Seasons — December photo challenge, hosted by the lovely Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch.   Click on the link to join in and to see other wonderful contributions.

Kind Regards.

Note:  All photos taken around Canberra and Yass, except for the last one.













80 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons – December 2019

    1. Very troublng. Still no word. Power and comms are down. He doesn’t have FB, and probably no battery operated radio. Their area looks like it is encircled by fire according to the map, but I have no idea how much of that is actively burning. Getting fuel and supplies into these places is really difficult. Impossible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is terrifying to see it on TV. As you know from the Australian community spirit, there’s some comfort, people will look after him and keep him safe.


      2. That’s just wonderful news, Tracy!

        Yes, I can’t comprehend why there isn’t more of a response from Commonwealth. To say it is a State issue makes no sense when people are at risk.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sorry, Dawn. I didn’t mean to mislead. No one from government has actually said that management was a state issue. That just happens to be where the burden of responsibility lies. Plus when a government comes into power and re-prioritises away from climate modelling to climate adaption and mitigation, by rationalising that we already know all we need to know about climate change predictions, then that also pushes mitigation policies into areas that are also the bailiwick of state governments IMO. There was a big press conference this morning, but I missed that so I don’t know what commitments were made.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I clicked ‘like’ but obviously I don’t like what is happening in Australia. I don’t know what to say except to thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The whole country is in flames, well large portions of it, unprecedented in our history in spite of the fact that we have a myriad of fires running at any one time. A lot people don’t realise that this smoke is also bad for health. But apart from that the so called water budget – natural cycle – is down, and the water that does fall falls at different times to when it did, and the ground is parched, but smoco isn’t too bothered, so yes thank goodness the it’s up to the states.


    1. I’ll add WA to the list, Paul. Sorry for the omission. The smoke sits heavy on the chest. We had our worst pollution day ever today. Usually 50 whatevers. 200 is hazardous. We had 4000 our side of town, the other side had 5000. Even my dog is hoarse.

      Tomorrow we may get smoke from a different fire. We are only supposed to phone in a fire if we see the flames, which is a little tricky to do from the inside the house! Apparently you can drop a small bomb into a forest to de-oxygenate it and stop the fire. No water required. Maybe it is a good idea, who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. O don’t be too troubled by my comments earlier, it was a plea. Our current one’s are small and containable, we’ve had two big ones, but the fire services nailed them quickly. We normally get three runaways, usually around February due to lightening mostly.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I gave the post a “like” as a sign of solidarity; what a terrifying month it has been, Tracy. I am still keeping you in my thoughts, I hope you hear from your father soon, and the weather turns around for the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a global problem that is felt more keenly in different regions of the world. Individual changes seem futile without an overall plan to change our ways and I feel the weight of your worries. You are in my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, stay indoors is the advice. It is summer school holidays here. The tourism high season. It adds to the challenges. I wonder if one of the climate adaptions we will make is to change the main holidays to a time when it is safer to travel. Good news on my father though.


  5. A stark and truthful look at what is happening to our beautiful country. I am so amazed that, this time and so far, Queensland is missing out on the horrendous fire storms and deadly smoke haze. But when and how will it all end. Graphic photos Tracy, the birds gasping, the cows with no shelter, smoke haze in every photo, and what touched my heart was that beautiful mature street tree dead. I hope you have heard from your father and they are ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness the fires have abated in Queensland, Pauline. I can’t wait for this next week to be over. That street tree was such a shock to me. How things had changed in the month that I had been trapped in the house. We are bucketing water on our own tree. We have let our grass go, but are thinking of just keeping a few metres going so our magpies have a little patch that they can fossick in. Good news of my dad too. He is staying there, but I have heard that there may be forced evacuations. I’m glad that the decision won’t be left entirely to him. He’s a bit like me. He thinks he knows everything. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve also heard that they have told the towns folk of Tuross to go to Moruya because they only have the resources to defend big towns. My father is the town north of Moruya. He cannot be told, Pauline. He may end up in the water yet. I love him dearly … You read my lion story. It is a nightmare. We’ve got two massive fires in the mountains that could combine… I’ve got family in Tumut.
        Very worrying for them. Everyone has been told to leave there too. Next stop the national capital.


      2. We do not hear about the Blue Mountain fires at the moment. I wonder if they are under control. If not……!!! I hope your family take the right decision and stay safe

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t think of Australia right now without a storming mix of sadness and rage. How can the images I’m seeing and the testimonies being given come from a country I know quite well, full of people I love. Like you, I’m terrified that the future has arrived and it only has to cross the Tasman to engulf me too.
    I wish there was something I could say or do to make things better for you Tracy. I hope there are things I can say and do to make a difference here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You can at least see the connection, Su. Many don’t even give it a second thought. It’s a real curse, isn’t it? A state of emergency has been declared in NSW for a week. Our little territory which is within NSW has been put on a state of alert. My adrenal gland is working overtime, but we’ve already been doing a lot of prep.

      Nevertheless, Summernats is still on. Big rev head festival. It is being held at the show ground. Incidentally that was the evacuation point for the 2003 fires and it was a good place for holding livestock. Interesting times.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well you wouldn’t want to spoil people’s enjoyment of their muscle cars would you? I mean, a bloke’s pride and joy his car, isn’t it.
        T went to the local Caffeine and Classics pop-up car saliva-fest thingy last weekend with an old friend. I think a couple of hours around the petrol-heads he once considered his tribe, and the friend’s (should have been expected) diatribe against Greta Thurnberg have done more to shift his political position than anything I’ve ever said.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It was such a beautiful area and Mallacoota coastline and bush leading to it was very memorable. Unfortunately, nature will recover faster than it’s human inhabitants.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this Tracy and we do hope the rains will come, the smoke will clear and all the animals and people can breathe again. We hope that people at all levels of corporate and governmental responsabilty will learn from what is happening here and change the way the land is managed and resources are won and distributed. Thinking of you and hope this new decade will bring a new healing and awakening for the highest good of all xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The media here suddenly discovers the fires in Australia! The Australian Prime Minister is shown saying in a sound bite, “I know people are worried” or words to that effect. Over 5,000,000 hectares burned reported in the media in 2019. (If accurate) “Worried” a perplexing characterization!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, perplexing. However, what people from other countries might not understand is that bushfires are nothing new in Australia. The PM has had to remind Aussies of that too. I guess he has to put the fires in perspective, because it is easy to lose perspective when you are caught up in events.
      I don’t know if that number is accurate since it increases by the day. But it is a big number.
      An apocalypse of a magnitude we’ve never seen before. Terrified, traumatised, utterly devastated, abandoned, exhausted, reeling, homeless, hungry, sick, dead, trapped, broken, hopeless, angry, livid, without hope, climate refugees, etc, etc might also apply. Perhaps even a time of great tribulation. But he didn’t say any of that. Whatever he says, someone is likely to take it the wrong way, right?


      1. I am without any qualification to made any comments upon the events unfolding in Australian. I understand very little about the political culture in Australia or how to read the actions of your politicians. I appreciate your blog which has taught me a great deal and I thank you. The largest wild fire in Canada in 2016 burned an area of over 300 square miles a tiny fraction of what is reported to have been burned in Australia in 2019. We have many forest fires in Canada each year which for the most part are contained and the necessary measures to preserve human life and property are taken. Our provinces, like your states, are primarily responsible for fire suppression but In many cases the burden is shared nationally. In Canada the Prime Minister is the target of daily criticism and once in a ‘blue moon’ gets some faint praise.


      2. It is tough being a PM genuinely trying to lead a massive change to a zero-emissions economy. A little more praise might give your PM some wriggle room in the court of public opinion to get some of the more difficult measures over the line. I hope Australia’s misfortune is a lesson to any government that thinks it can ignore the climate science and escape the consequences of inaction. It is a great incentive for global cooperation IMO. Thank you, Sid, for your comments. I’ve learnt a lot from you too.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Please don’t apologize, Tracy! You are dealing with so much right now that none of us expect a quick reply, or even a reply at all. Just know we are thinking of you as you face this horror, praying that it is over soon. I can’t begin to imagine…. Please know we will all help in any way we can!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Ann. That is very gracious of you. There are various appeals, but it is not clear where money is best spent at the moment. We are so grateful for the help we are receiving from America and other countries in providing fire-fighting teams.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Darren. It’s been a nightmare.
      I’m not sure of your exact work, but people who know how to propagate rare plants will be critical to species conservation. I hope our respective science agencies get more funding to help with all the issues that will need to be tackled as a result of the planet heating.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m not sure if you’re being melodramatic, Tracy. Ecosystem collapse will happen, that’s what scientists are promising, and against popular belief that we still can do something against it, those same scientists (about 100 of them) say that’s actually bullshit. We could have changed what’s going to happen if we had started 50 years ago…
    I know these are hard words, and hope dies last and humans simply need a reason to go on, and so will I. We are a species that specialized in ignoring things it doesn’t like. Nevertheless we need to take action of course, it’s what we do, and who knows, those scientists might be wrong after all…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You might have realized that I binge read blogs, backwards, reading the most recent and then moving onto earlier and earlier posts. It has advantages for me but might prove puzzling to you. I’m much relieved to read that your father and his partner are safe. Even if “safe” is an anemic word in Australia at the moment. And I apologize for spelling your name wrong, Tracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are not the only one to do that, Sharon. Whatever works for you. I have closed my posts for comments after 30 days though to stop some of the spam. Just so you know. Not that you’re spam. 🙂 Many people spell my name wrong. Again, it is no big deal. We’ve had a shower of rain yesterday, so I’m feeling a little more hopeful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We also had a shower of rain last night, a bit of water to fend off our constant state of drought. But we are lucky – though there have been terrible fires in California, none have been close to us. So far. We no longer have a fire season – our fire season is all year long. So those precious drops of rainwater last night were saved in big trash barrels that we’ll use to water the plants in the yard. Still, we’re only saving our pieces of tin and it isn’t enough.

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