Will we grow back into a more creative and flexible society after the 2020 collective assaults of drought, fire, hail and disease?
I walked along Potato Point Beach on the South Coast of NSW and into the forest on the last week of my break from work. The Eurobodalla National Park comes right down to Potato Point and the beach. The summer fires didn’t reach Potato Point but closer to Bodalla they left young trees dead and the undergrowth swept clean. Older, more established eucalypts, stripped of leaves and small branches, are already sending out sprays of fresh leaves from blackened trunks.
At dawn I shared the track with some sweet little Red-Necked Wallabies and a mob of Eastern Grey kangaroos. They must see plenty of humans in the summer as they stayed grazing until I was almost among them. A host of Crimson and Eastern rosellas, honey eaters, and little birds so quick I couldn’t identify them, skipped between the trees. I was disappointed not to catch a glimpse of the emus said to wander the forest and beach in this area. Pelicans landed like seaplanes, feet first, and chesnut teal, swans and the ubiquitous seagulls, entertained me as I stared out to Tuross Heads on the other side of the river from Beachcomber Park.
I reflected on the persistence and resilience of the eucalypt through crisis. The deepest rooted and most mature of trees have sprung back after the driest years on record and the most violent of firestorms. Unlike other trees that grow upwards, eucalypts sprout twigs and leaves from their trunks, making whole new branches. I wonder whether we will follow the example of this iconic Australian species, and grow back into a more creative and flexible society after the 2020 collective assaults of drought, fire, hail and disease?