Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Miller Time

During a conversation with Geoff the other day he'd asked for a copy of one of the photos I took at Phillip Island last year. This gave me an idea of my own. 

The laminated wood covering on my desk where my PC sit's has come off some time ago exposing the chipboard timber beneath and has slowly been falling apart with wood chips slivers going everywhere. I was wondering what to do about it when I got the idea of getting one of my pictures printed out and laminated to put over the top of it. As yet I haven't printed any of the photos I've taken. So off I went to Officeworks and got an A1 print laminated. I am pretty happy with the results. My play space is much more inspiring now.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Yet More Bushfire Hell

Our current bushfire crisis is far from over with it flaring up bigger than ever on the NSW South Coast and Eastern Victoria on New Year's eve and it's still raging. The fire fronts are so big that our fires services are so stretched that some fires are unattended, they just simply can't be everywhere.  These fires are bigger in size than the Australian Capital Territory(ACT) with over 4.5m hectares burnt out in NSW alone. Here is a map of the current fires in NSW. There are predictions the worst is yet to come this saturday with temperatures in the mid 40's.

The eastern Victorian town of Mallacoota had 4000 residents and holidayers evacuated to the beachfront as the bushfire swept through the town destroying hundreds of houses. Daytime was turned to night as residents stood on the beach in blackness at 9.20am. Truly horrifying and frightening stuff. These fires are now so big that the smoke is reaching across the Tasman sea and engulfing New Zealand's South Island as seen here on the BOM sat view. http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Screen grab of satellite view - smoke trails bottom right out across NZ

It was similar scenes in the NSW town of Batemans Bay with residents and holidayers evacuated to the beaches. There are photos on the Internet of the main street at midday looking like night time. Very scary. Our hearts go out to them and everyone that has been lost in the fires. So far sadly 9 people have lost their lives in the new years fire, but it could have been so much worse. Photo below is of the fire at 11am on new years eve with batemans bay in the centre of pic.

One of the major problems with these fires is that when the smoke rises up it forms cumulonimbus flammagenitus which cause dry lightning strikes making the fires even bigger. The above picture shows the cumulonimbus flammagenitus rising in front of the fire front. The RFS has confirmed 382 homes have been destroyed and they're expecting to find more.

Cobargo is small town in southern NSW which was also devastated by the fires with the main street being hit. We regularly travel through this pretty little town on our annual snowys ride.

Speaking with Geoff on new years eve we  decided we would take a new years day ride out across the Bells Line of road in the Blue Mountains and have a look around. This was where the bushfire's ripped through here about one week ago. What we found was more devastation.

The first sign of any fires was in Bilpin about 30km from Windsor were the Tutti Frutti shop has been burnt down. For the next 52km into Lithgow the entire Blue mountains has been burnt out. There are small patches here and there not burnt.

Geoff spotted smoke and thought he'd better put it out before any more fires break out.

The W30 sign is for Windsor one of Sydney's outer suburbs so the fires are within 30kms of Australia's largest city, that's how close they have come. We actually had a watch and act fire alert sms come through on our mobile phones on new years eve for an out of control grass fire only 10 minutes from our house. That's getting a bit close.

We stopped in across from Bilpin Fruit bowl for a coffee and homemade apple pie. The apple pie was delicious and I was desperately needing a coffee pick me up. A RFS brigade stopped in for some lunch at the table next to us. Members of the public were stopping to talk with them and thank them for their efforts. This was great to see. Well done lads and ladies.

Coming up Mt Tomah you could see through the tree lines on the side of the road that normally blocks your view. But now with the fire defoliating the roadside there are clear views out over the surrounding hills. They have been fire devastated as far as the eye can see.

It's a sad sight indeed to see so much destruction of a once beautiful area. Our only hope is that we get some rain soon so that it will help with the trees to grow back and help put out some of these fires. Sadly there's no rain forecast anytime soon.

Mt Tomah devastation

Mt Tomah area is the worst hit. Coming up the hill to Mt Bell 998m the signs have been completely melted off and lay on the road as pieces of molten aluminum. I believe that aluminum melts at over 660°C that's how hot these fires are getting up to. Even the steel railing was buckled from the heat.

Melted Signage
Riding on a couple more kilometres I saw a rock vantage point on the left side that looked out over the surrounding hills looking towards Mt Banks. I climbed to the top which is never easy in Motorcycle boots. The view here would normally be beautiful but not today. But it does show the size and scale of the destruction.

Looking South towards Mt Banks(Centre)

Looking North from the location above
From here we rode into Lithgow, the fires had burn out tree's all the way into Lithgow coming down the twisty hill at the end of the range. Looking across the other side of Lithgow the hills were covered in burnt tree's.

We decided to head back via the Great Western Highway and it was getting quite hot up here today, up to 36°C. It's not normally that hot up here but perhaps that due to not tree cover and everything is now black absorbing heat? On our way back through Katoomba the temp dropped by 6°C in less than a kilometre. That was like someone switched on the air conditioning. Just a short ride today but great to get out for a ride on the first day of the year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers out in the blogosphere. I hope you all have a merry christmas and a happy new year and enjoy your break.

Christmas these days is just for my kids but this year I bought myself a last minute Christmas  present.

Yes a new pair of boots. After last months ride one of the soles had started to come apart. They are over 8 years old after all. They are not race boots as I was after something simple, with

I wish you all the best for 2020, may it bring you something special.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Bushfire Hell

For those readers that are not from Australia and maybe insulated as to whats been happening down here we are currently in the middle on one of our worst bushfire seasons in living memory and the bad news is it only just turned to summer two weeks ago. Spring has seen some of the biggest fires across the state. Currently there are over 100 bushfire's burning in NSW, with over 40 of them still out of control. They first started up the mid north coast of NSW but now consume the whole eastern seaboard.

For the last 6 weeks smoke has covered Sydney creating the worst air quality readings in the world. That's right even worse than India. The air quality index for some parts of the city(Prospect) was above 2234 – more than 10 times the ‘hazardous’ threshold of 200. Bushfire's have burned over 2.7 million hectares in New South Wales this fire season. You may have seen pictures on the news such as this one below of Sydney harbour shrouded in smoke.

Pic Left: A screen shot from the fires near me app about 2 weeks ago showing 80+ fires raging all across NSW.

Photo Right: Local shopping centre on the way home Friday afternoon about 5pm two weeks ago. The sun was blocked by smoke, with an eerie red sun with an red/orange glow everywhere.

Silverwater - M4

The photo above was taken 1 week ago from the overpass on the M4 motorway in Silverwater right near my work. You can only see for about 200m before the smoke haze blocks out everything. Normally on a clear day you would see the skyscrapers of Parramatta from here.

Leaving work on Friday afternoon my Ute was covered in white ash from the fires.

Looking on the weather map provided a fascinating view as you can see to the right in the pic. It looks like Sydney is getting a belting of rain. Unfortunately for us there's been no rain recently and what the weather radar is actually picking up is the cloud of ash from the bushfire's.

The largest fire around Sydney has been the Gospers Mountain fire which has engulfed an area of over 500,00 hectares. That is actually much larger than the entire Sydney basin, and for those that have not visited Sydney before that is a huge area. The map below from today shows the area of the fire(in black) and you can see the Sydney metro area just below it.

The Gospers Mountain fire has engulfed one of Sydney premier bike road's, namely the Putty Road. If you regularly follow my blog then you will have seen many pictures from this road as I ride it fairly often.

On Sunday I decided to head up there and take a look around and see what damage has been done. I wasn't prepared for the devastation I witnessed. As you can see from the following images the terrain is so steep and rugged bushland there is no way to get in and fight these fires except from the air.

There's a larger gallery of images at my facebook page.

Here's a short video I took whilst I was out on the road. It really shows the devastation of this fire.

The road was blocked at the Grey Gums cafe where I stopped for breakfast and coffee. The young lass that manned the road block told me that the fire was only 16 km north of the cafe heading towards the cafe with RFS services back burning to try and stop it.

After a very nice coffee and bacon & egg roll for mid morning breakfast it was time to head home but not before putting in a donation to the RFS at the Grey Gums. Let's hope the everyone can get out and support these guys and help them get back on their feet. I stopped a few times for photo's on the way home, which again can be found in the gallery above.

Thanks for reading and lets hope for a smoke/fire free christmas.