We celebrate life emerging from the ashes of the 2019/20 Australian fires.
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My name is Gerald Haslinger and I live with my wife in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. After losing our house in the January 2020 bushfires, we were determined that from the ashes of our house, a new home and new life would flourish.
This website contains a selection of images that capture our experience as well as signs of the emerging life that is now beginning to flourish on our property. I will continue to add images to this page as "life" continues to speak more clearly around our new home.
As a local psychologist, I wanted to create a platform where anyone affected by the Australian fires of 2019/2020 could share a visual record of some of their experience to help them, and us all, process the impact of these fires over the summer. So, I invite others affected by these bushfires to contribute any images they may have by contacting me via email: email@example.com.
Initially, these photos have been provided by me, however, I hope that others will share some of their images and as this happens, I will add more and more pictures to this site.
Hopefully this becomes a place for anyone who lost their home during these bushfires to share their experience and as a result, help them come to terms with their loss. We all process our grief in different ways. Some by talking about what happened, others by writing about it and still others, in unique ways I can't even imagine. For me, documenting the journey has been helpful.
Whilst I don't expect that contributors here will be professional photographers, some of the images in this collection may be enhanced to create a more artistic reflection of what happened. Some of my images may be enhanced to reflect the mood of the photographer at this time.
Looking forward to some contributions from others! Get creative and please share some of your journey with us, if you feel ready to do that and it helps in your recovery.
Should you see these images & wish to access them for your own personal use, I invite you to get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you get in touch, please let us know who the photographer is, the image number and what you are willing to donate in order to use the image. You will be granted permission to use the image on your electronic devices and to produce up to three prints for personal use.
Should you wish to use any of these images commercially, please get in touch via the same email address.
The bulk (90%) of donations for other contributors will go to the contributor of the image.
I will also share any donations made for images I have provided with others who lost their homes in the Southern Highlands. Those of us who were insured, may find that the costs of rebuilding are a struggle given that the quality of building codes in bushfire affected areas has improved and increased the cost of building significantly and of course, some people have no insurance at all.
From the Ashes - Life
As the fire front approached our home it created its own weather system. It was about 20km away at this stage.
Incredible definition in these clouds as they get closer. If they didn't bring such destruction they might be considered beautiful.
A different view of the fire storm approaching our home in NSW.
The fire storm front approaches over bone dry countryside with a strong southerly wind blowing - the perfect conditions for a fire storm.
The view that greeted us on the road in to our property, immediately after the fire.
Blackened trees were all over our property after the fire tore through.
On the day of the fire, my brother-in-law and I cleared a path through one of our paddocks to allow firefighters to safely approach. It remained clear as it had no fuel to burn on it and no fire trucks could come down our road.
Not much was left of our shed, including everything inside it.
Two days after the fire destroyed our home, there was still evidence of small fires burning in different places.
All that was left of our house but a new home will emerge from the ashes.
All that was left of our rubbish bin. When I rang to cancel our collection service, they asked whether the bins survived!
The only non-flammable part of our house. The only part of our house to survive the fire.
After almost 12 months with very little rain, our dam level was low when the fire came through. Burnt trees collapsed into the dam during the fire.
Smoke continued to come from burnt trees for many days after the fire.
This tree stump was still burning many days after the fire and even after the rain that came a few weeks later. My son and I put out this smoking stump about 3 weeks after the fire that claimed the tree.
The location of our property and the speed of the fire meant fire-fighters did not get a chance to use the water buckets we left around our house.
We couldn't rescue our home but we found this little fella on our driveway and were able to get him to a rescue shelter only 40 minutes from our home. He is doing well!
When we left, we didn't really expect the fire to take our home so we left 95% of our things where they were, including my golf clubs.
It's difficult to say but I am pretty sure this is my wife's bike. Didn't stand a chance.
Less than a week after the fire there were signs of new life emerging from our burnt trees. From the ashes - life!
One of my favourite images showing the new growth, contrasted with the burnt trees in the background.
On one of paddocks we had a pile of old trees, cuttings and leaves to be burnt the next winter when that would be allow again - we don't have to now.
During the 12 months we lived on our property, this chook shed grew from 2m2 to 12m2 to 30m2.... to zero m2.
All that remains of the fencing around the chook shed.
The fire behaved quite strangely, burning some things and leaving others alone - this teak chair from our outdoor setting was not so lucky.
A different perspective of our teak chair, severely burnt but managing to hang together.
Another water bucket left for fire-fighters but this one did not fare as well as some others. This was located downwind from the direction of the fire so experienced higher temperatures.
This piece of timber used to hold up the decking which surrounded our home. Incredible how it is gone but still there, with some nails and screws almost frozen.
One of braces that held up our rear deck surrounded by shattered glass and screws, which look like the timber they held simply melted away.
Incredible to think that the fire destroyed our house but left this bucket in pretty good condition on our front steps and it's still full of water.
The weight of the roof collapsed onto what remained of our house during the fire, creating this interesting shape.
When the roof collapsed, it created some strange shapes - this one looks almost like a flower.
An abstract view of some part of our house. Nails still in place but timber burnt to ash. There were lots of nails in this house!
Almost the only water these gutters had seen in the previous 12 months came from me, when I plugged them up and filled them with water - didn't help!
These nails are sitting on the brickwork around the base of our house, looking almost lonely. They did a good job whilst they could.
Almost nothing survived the fire in our shed. Only a single crowbar survived although that is looking pretty rusty now too.
There were many burnt trees on our property but this one stood out to me. It looks almost clean although it crumbles into black ash when touched.
All that is left of the hose I used to fill the gutters and wet the roof. It was only 3 metres away from the house and melted.
The previous owners of our home installed a swing set for their children - this is all that is left.
How incredible that our teak outdoor table was burnt in this way. The timber burnt but the bolt holding the table together remained in the same place - unbelievable!
We received this metal chook as a gift from family and it survived, although it did suffer some pretty extreme damage.
Many years ago I bought a decent toolbox filled with tools. Time for an upgrade.
As a way to reconnect with our land, we have built a cabin where we feel safely at home. New growth is all around us.
There is so much greenery blossoming everywhere!
There is also plenty of bright red growth that almost glows when against the ash background.
Our trees re huge and I wonder whether this little plant ever looks up wondering where the top is?
When I was looking for new plant growth to photograph this week, I discovered two animal friends that have returned. Here is the smaller of the two.
Sometimes it looks like these plants defy gravity!
Despite considerable barriers, it looks like this shoot will be able to survive.
Whilst there are lots of well known native trees on our land, there are also some smaller examples of plant life beginning to pop up.
Some mushrooms aren't as luck and have to live on their own.
Even left totally on their own, some of our vegetables have found a way to survive and thrive. Nice and spicy!
Here is the second animal friend I spotted just up the road. I noticed the burrow because dirt had been thrown all over the road. When I approached the wombat went inside but was still curious.
Contact us today to contribute your own images or to make a donation to use an image.
We are passionate about supporting others affected by the bushfires, particularly in our neck of the woods, the Southern Highlands.
Please feel free to get in touch if you were affected by the fires and need to chat with someone who knows what you went through or if you need assistance.
There is help in our community and we have benefited from the amazing generosity of those around us. Please know you are not alone on your recovery journey.
PO Box 325 BOWRAL NSW 2576