February 7, 2009 will be forever etched on most Victorians’ minds as the start of Australia’s worst ever bushfires. “Black Saturday”, as it is known, killed more than 170 people and thousands of animals, destroyed more than a million acres of bushland, wiped out townships and left 7500 homeless. Residents in Victoria’s southeast were told to prepare for extreme conditions the day before; temperatures exceeding 47ºC and winds of up to 120km/hr were predicted, combined with tinder-dry land due to the previous week’s heatwave and long-term drought. In the Gippsland region a fire was started deliberately in Churchill and quickly spread to surrounding areas. Fires also destroyed thousands of acres of bushland in Wilsons Promontory.
Always check with Parks Victoria (parks.vic.gov.au) before setting out during the summer months and familiarize yourself with bushfire safety tips.