Living Hell

The Monthly

February 2020

Early one afternoon in late November 2019, I left Canberra as it was bathing in a sepia haze of bushfire smoke to drive back towards my home on the south coast of New South Wales. As I headed east, past dried-out farm country with paddocks the colour of sand and stands of brittle eucalypts throwing bark, a fierce wind whipped up a fog of dust and smoke so thick I needed headlights. The smoke could have been coming from anywhere – there were more than 60 fires burning across NSW that week.

In Braidwood, a country town about halfway between the national capital and the coast, I pulled over because I had an appointment to do a phone interview for a story I was working on for this magazine. I was writing about the extraordinary bushfire season already unfolding, one that had started unseasonably early, in Queensland in late winter, before moving into northern NSW in spring, with devastating consequences.

FULL STORY

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