(Not a Play) Point 87: What’s the good news surrounding the Australian fires?

Play Point 86: Five weeks from Cairns to Perth via Sale, Vic (AUS) or Niagara Falls to LA via Pt Canaveral, FL (USA)
November 7, 2019

Please note there are 86 Play Points before this rather serious post.

Are you serious? Could there be any good news regarding the Australian bushfires? Well, yes. If, once you’ve taken the time to heal from the emotions of the initial tragedy, you look hard enough, there is good news amongst the rubble and ruin. Triumph can reign. It’s a matter of time, perspective and support, as it can be hard to do on your own.

Actually the Chinese word for crisis is made of 2 syllables where the second means crucial point (ie when something begins or changes). Years ago, experiencing personal tragedy (many people know of my brother taking his own life), it took me two years but eventually I saw the silver lining. Because he was 26 I came up with 26 lessons I learned from that event. And many people will indeed tell you years after a life changing event, that they were able to find the positives. They claim that their low point was the turning point and it makes sense. We can choose to make a change early or we keep going down until we are forced to change.

The rise out of that hole is quicker for some and it helps if you have support. A-S-K is the best 3 letter word in the English language so use it ? If you don’t agree with the following positives as I see them, ask someone what they think. Then let me know – I’d love to hear other opinions. Yes, this year I only had to evacuate my Northern Rivers property three times. My father’s south west Sydney house survived while the sheds burned and my mother and half siblings were also affected south of Nowra and at Katoomba. So we were all looking out for each other, sometimes at the same time and everyone survived thankfully. By no means do I wish to diminish the sadness and empathy I feel for those who have lost loved ones and that which can never be replaced. With time, my reflective nature has been able to find these positives:

1. It can’t possibly be business as usual after this event. Changes will occur. The issue will be how soon, how they will be funded and who will benefit. So the time is now to make your voice heard about what matters to you. People are listening.

2. We may come to realise what’s really important when we have only a few minutes to pack possessions. And if you’ve got a second chance like I did evacuating 3 times, then you may realise that you exchange some things that you took first time round. Almost everything can be replaced. In 2003 the Canberra fires seemed to create two lots of people; those that were devastated they had lost material possessions and those that were grateful, even if they only had the shirts on the back. It showed perspective and resilience for the fortunate ones who chose to look at it that way. This definitely makes every hiccup in life much easier.

3. It can actually be cleansing. Everything is relative but the picture above is of the land that we were trying to sell when a fire came through in August 2018. The photo below is what it looks like today. Because it didn’t sell and I couldn’t handle the deterioration of our relationship or being in limbo anymore, I bought him out and now, I am so much happier than I have ever been!

4. You can see how your friends or potential partners react when there is a crisis. Many relationships survive in suburbia by going to the movies, having children and no apparent tragedies. The tragedy is that they don’t flourish or grow outside their comfort zones. Once we are challenged we get to see what our coping mechanisms are and who we can rely upon.

This may be a simplistic view but I’ve been frustrated with the blame game that people are playing. How much energy has gone into that? If the RFS volunteers don’t agree on what has caused it and yet they step up to take action, how can we as a collective do the same so that we never experience this again?

There are many factors at play and many branching domino effects. For example, laws need to be made and abided by. Trees need to be planted and deforestation stopped. Hazard reduction burning needs to occur and funding for all of these activities supplied. But at the ground level we can look after our own area. As one man who saved his house said, he raked all the leaves, took preparatory action and quarantined about 9000 L of water. When the day came he was ready. So preparation is key, although it’s not the only factor. Whatever you do, given the future climate regardless of cause, don’t build the same house or do the same thing as before the fires came through. Look at this as an opportunity to change direction for the better. Could you build an Earthship or something similar? Could you grow a different crop? Could you have different animals? I’ll leave it with you and look forward to your thoughts.

And if you’d like to have “PMT in the Workplace: How Positive Mental Thoughts affect Productivity” delivered on site (or any other YMM workshop) just Contact me. I hope the rest of this season holds some respite for you xx



  1. Alex Tewes says:

    The NSW RFS has already flagged that they will have a role in advising and defining what and how it gets rebuilt. Homes will either have large bare areas around them or be built to withstand heat and flame exposure. It will not be cheap. I like your idea of earthships, and I suspect that lots of rebuilds will head underground with fire shutters on external windows and a refuge room with assured (tank?) air supply.

    As you say, the future will NOT be like the past … but I am not sure that our current crop of politicians understand this yet.

  2. Larissa Zimmerman says:

    That’s great to hear Alex although I’d be reluctant to have large bare areas around as that’s worse for dry heat around / inside the building (if it’s not an Earthship). I know there’s fire resistant vegetation and do look forward to the new designs.

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