Have you ever wondered what happens in the bush 3 months after a hot fire?
My daughter and I decided to find out. We walked deep in the bush on a foggy day.
Bizarre fantasy land
It was a bizarre fantasy land, bare soil and silent trees, no birds.
The trees initially looked black and lifeless, but on closer inspection they were swelling and renewing. Bursts of green triangles, soon to be leaves. Bark splitting from the swelling, with strips peeling off, red inside, black outside. The black trunks streaked with vertical white stripes.
I suddenly stopped. Right at eye height was a cluster of blue-purple bubbles. They shimmered in the wind. The eucalypt sap pushing out must have done this.
Here is a clip of the shimmer and micro world.
And in this micro world, more signs of life with a lone bull ant explorer prowling the tree trunk. Sure enough, nearby the ground had fresh pockmark holes of an active bull ant colony. It must have been deep enough to have survived the fire.
Nearby green shoots of native grasses pushed up through the baked soil. In other places fungi under logs somehow survived the heat too.
Then I remembered the ghost camp. A place on a hill deep in the bush where years ago, campers had abandoned their tents. My daughter wasn’t sure if it was just a tall story.
A hill looked familiar and we followed old wheel marks to the top. No tents could have survived the fire. It took a while and there sure enough, there it was. A roll of aluminium foil. A grainy pile that would once have been muesli. On the ground three lines in a triangle. Remnants of fiberglass poles that once held a tent, and another three marking the second tent. ‘So there really was a camp!’, my daughter surprised that the ghost camp really existed.
Here was the abandoned camp before the fire, from a different angle!
Back on the road, it was possible to see the outline of old logging tracks, invisible in the normal bush, now revealed in a once in a generation event. We could also start to piece together how the fire had burned. In some places the trees had brown leaves, scorched by the fire but unburned. In others near the road, not a trace of a leaf at the tops as the fire had burned hot and high, taking everything.
In the silence we could hear just our footsteps, but no, there were small signals of more life. Tiny forest wrens were exploring the logs, little bell chirps around us.
Slowly the forest is coming back to life. It will be fascinating to watch in the months ahead.