When I finally pulled into my friend’s driveway, I gasped. Her formerly lush property had been transformed into a smouldering wasteland. I walked around taking it all in and choking back tears. I couldn’t believe how much had been lost. By some miracle, her house was still standing.
I could still see smoke rising from small spot fires dotted around the property and the smell was overwhelming. My friend had left a couple of hours earlier because she couldn’t stand the smoke anymore, but she’d told me to look around as much as I liked.
I saw a burnt car through the charred trees that stretched all the way to her neighbour’s property. The birds were chirping as if nothing had happened. I felt like I was on a movie set. My friend texted me just then. “I hear there’s another fire in Corooibah,” she wrote. “It’s contained, but you should probably leave now.”
I climbed back in my car and drove sombrely down Lake Corooibah Road. I pulled over to quickly take some footage of the scorched bush, but when I saw two fire trucks race past I knew it was my cue to get out of there. As I made my way back to civilisation, more and more cars joined me. These poor people were leaving their homes yet again, not knowing if they’d find them standing when they returned.
My hearts go out to you, bushfire survivors. What I saw today will stay with me forever.