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  • Today the Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) will visit Tasmania to view the fire damage to the small communities along the east coast. Thankfully no one has died but many are still missing. Fire, floods and droughts seem to define Australia at times. Many of our plants, particularly the eucalypts, need fire to germinate so fire has shaped the landscape. Because we love the bush we build our houses in the middle of it, and then we end up clearing hundreds of hectares creating fire trails to protect our properties.

    Aboriginal people knew how to use fire. Knew that you had to have lots of little fires to make sure that huge wildfires did not occur, to make sure that animals could escape to unburnt patches, and then come back to graze on the new shoots. Australians of other origins are still learning to understand the natural rhythms of this country, still realising that at times we fear what we love when the bush turns on us, or when rivers engulf our towns or when sharks turn up at our beaches. We keep resisting it but time and again we keep getting reminded that we are part of the landscape and sometimes nature is in charge.

    Image: Tasmania from Aqua Satellite
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