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Saturday, 7 February 2009

Koala Visits in Aussie Heat Wave

Many parts of Australia are in the grip of an unusually severe heat wave. Thankfully, not where I live, at the moment anyway, although we do get 30C to 33C regularly, with what's likely to be 95 per cent humidity.

This week-end is regarded as likely to bring much more extreme temperatures and fire danger to many parts of southern Australia even though in North Queensland this week a cyclone and a very deep low arrived in one town bringing record floods - twice! We have a BIG country.

For the coming two days I've heard forecasts of up to 47C or 116.6F in the south. And yet some still deny the existence of global warming!

Record temperatures are being set and massive intense bushfires are raging through the countryside, wiping out homes and infrastructure.

News bulletins are advising that we look after our elderly and sick, protecting them against the heat.

Thousands of heroic fire fighters are attempting to hold back the flames that cover hundreds of kilometres. I heard a radio warning to residents that they could not absolutely expect to see a big red truck drive up to help them save their place because there weren't enough of them.

Wildlife is always at risk in these situations and many of our native animals die in fire.

This morning I received these pictures via email and I don't know who the photographer was - except that she was a woman in Maude on the Murrumbidgee River in Victoria.

To the family's great astonishment this little guy turned up in their garage, seeking relief from the violent sun.

Now, koalas are a wild animal. They look cute and cuddly but they don't take kindly to people and are known to scratch and spit and roar if approached in a way they don't appreciate.

The woman filled up a bucket of water and the following pix show us what happened.

The little guy first tested the water with his paw and then took a lick and then a drink.

By this the kids had come running to see the fun.

And then, ignoring the onlookers, the koala took a dip in the bucket, obviously enjoying the coolness.

As I understand it, Koalas don't really seek out water, generally relying on the moisture in the leaves they eat. These fellas live in the famous Australian eucalypt or gum tree, and the leaves are their main nourishment, even though they are filled with powerful eucalyptus oil.

I reckon this visit is one out of the box.

Or, as we could also say, one for the bucket!

Bushfire is not only a threat to those in the bush. If people live in an urban fringe or semi-rural area when the heat hits, their lives could be at risk.

The Country Fire Authority in Victoria is presently advising:

'If you own a holiday house, caravan or shack in a bushfire risk area, you need to be prepared there as well.

'On a day of high bushfire risk you need to have a clear bushfire plan.

'If your decision is to stay and actively defend your property, then you need to put your bushfire plan into action. If you have decided to leave the area, then leave before a fire threatens and road travel becomes hazardous.
Find out more about how to prepare for a bushfire.'

The authority asks everyone to consider:

  • Leave or stay? It's your decision
  • How to protect your property
  • How to protect yourself
  • Making a bushfire plan
  • Obtaining further information during fires - radio?
  • Is other essential equipment to hand?

The heat had already hit Sydney yesterday and my elderly uncle and aunt - both in their nineties - live in a suburb where 40C plus was threatening. I rang to check them out to find that my dear brother was already there watching out for them and getting in the groceries. He'd persuaded them to put in air conditioning in one room a couple of years ago thank goodness. They'd resisted it for years. Anyway, they were safe yesterday, sitting close to the one source of coolness in their little home.

Update on the Victorian fires and the Queensland floods

7am Sunday AEDT It seems that a huge section of the Victorian countryside in southern Australia has been absolutely burned out.

Overnight the Premier announced that 14 people had died there because of yesterday's bushfires, with it possible that numbers could raise threefold.

Temperatures had reached an all time record of 48C or 118.4F.

In Ingham in Far North Queensland residents are bracing themselves for the seventh day of severe and record flooding.

There is no question in my mind that these extremes are the results of global warming. All of those scientists must be right.

At the moment we are so lucky here where I am. We are not affected by any of this on the Northern Rivers of NSW. Although my brother lives near a bushfire that got out of control last night near Sydney. He's okay.

Those poor people at each end of Australia.

Another Update on the Fires

8am Sunday AEDT It has just been announced that the death toll is officially 25 with many more to come. The figure of 40 deaths has already been mentioned. There have been many people severely burned. More than 100 (update 9am 400) homes are known to have been destroyed. The fires continue in Victoria.

They are destroying farms near where my son-in-law grew up as a child, and many of his friends would be affected. His parents sold their property not long ago. In this area the fire front is 20km long, and there is no sign of substantial rain.

9am ADST Sunday: I have just seen TV pictures of towns 'blowtorched' with almost every house flattened by fire storms. They say 400 homes have been destroyed to date.

There have been 100 homes destroyed in the major city of Bendigo.

It is the worst bushfire disaster in Victorian history.

Conditions have eased a little and investigators are finding more dead - often in burned out cars. One car contained six bodies.

There are 40 bushfires burning in southern New South Wales and 350 in Victoria. The Victorian fire chief has warned that it is far from over yet with many huge fires still burning. He forecast at least another two days of severe danger.

Can you tell us all in a comment how the weather near you is being apparently affected by global warming?


  1. We are having the same temp´s! Every day over 40°!! It get´s so tiring!
    Hope you keep cool and safe!

  2. Hi Betty
    Is that 'normal' for you in Paraguay? Or is it record stuff pointing to global warming?
    Do you have fires?
    As I suggested we're not in the midst of this - yet.

  3. Oh, Lord, between the ice and snow storms here and the heat fires there, our continent is in a hell of a mess! The photos are adorable! Bless his heart! Thanks so much for keeping us up to date. Stay cool and take care. Glad your aunt and uncle have the air conditioner!!

  4. Hi June, It is so great to be able to come visit you again as of today. Can you believe it was almost 60 degrees here today and 6 night before last. This is the craziest weather I have ever seen. I hope that you and yours are o.k. and staying cool. That koala is just about the cutest thing I have seen in a long time! Hopefully, I am back online to stay and almost back to normal from the ice storm. Seems funny you talking about a heat wave and me an ice storm!!! Be safe, my friend. Love, Judy

  5. Sylvia
    We can't help wondering what is next. How can there be any hesitation on making the environment Priority One?
    My aunt and uncle being 90 plus are very old school and could not conceive of an air conditioner. It took my brother two years before they saw any sense in it. Yesterday Bill said to me 'I don't know what we would be doing without it'(!)

  6. Judy
    Welcome back but I must own up - I have had a couple of weeks of very low key activity, beginning with a computer problem too. Then other things closed in on me and I haven't had a minute for my bloggie mates. Things are gradually improving just now for me too.

    How about the ice! Apparently it's the same in Great Britain ... And here the heat ...


  7. Amazing photos of the wild little adorable! He was smart wasn't he? Seems so hard to believe we are on the same planet...with our snow and ice here and you with record heat there!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you for sharing these! My friend from Sydney sent them to me. It's raining here --though we had so many dry hot months that winter failed to materialize. Just last week, I was running around in shorts and a t-shirt, rather dreading the next 11 months of drought. But it's raining now, and that's very nice.

  9. Hmmmm, things are pretty hot in Oz aren't they! I heard on the news this morning that there
    is no shortage of water in Queensland, thank God it's raining somewhere. I blogged the same set of pics of the baby Koala this week, great minds think alike, eh!

    Eaton. :)

  10. Hi Kanani
    There are so many extremes in the US too ...
    I live in a little piece of Eden here on the North Coast of NSW, Oz where (touch wood) droughts are token, we mostly miss the worst of the storms, winter is perfection and we complain in mid summer because there's humidity. I shouldn't boast in case I do us some damage.

  11. Eaton
    Great minds do think alike! It's amazing to think that such a naturally independent animal should put itself in what could have been great risk! Sad eh?
    Yeah - it's hot.
    By the way happy blog birthday - I have another four or so months to go yet.

  12. You're heat wave has been a topic on our news for a little while now. I don't envy you at all. The humidity makes it worse. Make sure you stay hydrated, and have a share of salt.

    That Koala is just adorable. I hope it does not get to used to humans, and endanger itself.

  13. June,

    Wonderful Koala pictures. Enjoyed them.

    But not such great weather it looks like. Between Judy in the Ice Age and Things on a boil where you are, I am not surprised, that Mumbai, normally humid and sweaty is actually a bit cool in the mornings these days. I think weather is changing everywhere.

    Its so nice for your elderly aunt and uncle to have you and your brother there. ....

  14. ERIC
    I absolutely agree with you about the koala. I think that in the act of taking over the habitat of our wildlife we are getting too close to those which do survive. The human rash eh?

    So you are saying that the weather in India - at least where you are - is getting a little better?
    Is this more general across the sub-continent?

    I'm not near my aunt and uncle - they're in Sydney 12 hours drive distant. However my brother lives an hour or so away from them and visits twice a week at least. All I can do is ring.

  16. Hi June

    The bear is adorable and who would blame him. Well its been 40 degrees for me today and just about the 6th anniversary since 500 houses were destroyed by bush fires in my suburb. Not something I would ever want to go through again. My sister is meanwhile in the thick of snow in the UK. Global warming? No, of course it doesnt exist...

  17. Hi june

    Weather is unpredictable this year around the glob. Here in Jordan, very little rain compared to previous years, everybody is complaining. I ask God for mercy. Take care and good luck.

  18. Talk about extremes - heat waves, terrible droughts and snow and ice storms...

    Amazing pictures of that koala bear - the poor little dude must have been desperate!

  19. Well, I have NEVER seen anything like that koala taking a bath!! That is so sweet, isn't it? His little face is adorable. Poor hot little guy.....

  20. G'day LILLY
    Scarey thinking about the Canberra bush fires. You were there then eh? How awful.
    I can't help thinking the government should be doing all it can to establish pro-environment and sustainable industries asap.

  21. KMS
    So Jordan is suffering from a lack of rain as well? How much evidence do we need?

  22. Hi LADYFI
    We could talk about all of this for the rest of the day and still not make a dint in it ...
    I do think the koala pix made a huge point though. Koalas really don't freternise with humans. That this little guy felt he needed to take the risk is HUGE.

  23. BRAJA
    You're right - that's not koala behaviour. Everything is turning upside down.

  24. I've been reading about the your heatwave and the fires. I do believe it is directly related to global climate change. Here on the central coast of California, we are in the midst of a winter drought. Winter is the only season we get any rain, and it's been very sparse. We are already hearing that it's likely there will be water rationing this summer.

    It breaks my heart to see that koala, but at least it took a chance and found a place to cool off and get a drink. What will happen to those less fortunate. I always feel bad for the animals, because they have no idea what's coming or why.

  25. NERYS and KIKI
    Thanks for beginning to 'follow' 70 Plus.
    Nerys you are in Australia and I can't get to your blog! How about emailing me as I'd love to chat ...

  26. ROBIN
    You have reached right to a nub of all of this. What will happen to those less fortunate? Animals, humans et al ...
    and the least fortunate of all Earth herself?

  27. I saw this and I kept thinking "What on earth is she talking about?" when I'm looking out on snow and hearing about ice storms. Then I realized I am a blockhead when I remembered you are in Australia. Same time of year, different hemispheres. (sigh)

    I agree with the koala: in heat like that, we could all use a dip and a drink!

  28. Hi GUMBO
    Yes Gumbo - it's a big world out there!

  29. I hopr you all are in good health,kind regards from Holland.

    Hello there in Holland. I am personally fine here in my home but tragic things are happening today in other parts of this driest continent on earth.

  31. Oh, June, the terrible devastation of those fires! The poor people and the poor animals! Thank you for keeping us updated. I am glad to know you are safe, as my knowledge of Australian geography is poor and I couldn't remember exactly where you live. I am getting more familiar with the Australian map now.

    Here in New Mexico, in the American Southwest, we are in what they are calling "a prolonged drought." The weather is pretty nice here, and I'm afraid retirees like me move here and place more demands on the water supply. We get about 18 inches of rain a year in eastern New Mexico, fairly evenly spaced through the year, but there hasn't been any for several months just now. We are looking forward to predicted showers later today but so often we get just the tiniest sprinkling.

    In the meantime, New Hampshire where we used to live in the northeast part of the country (New England region), has been plagued by ice storms and power outages--the same in other parts of the country to the south. A fellow blogger in Kentucky (more to the south) was without power and heat (and the Internet!) for nine days. A friend in New Hampshire prepaid this year for her winter's heating oil supply--unfortunately she paid when the prices were near their peak as she feared they would just keep going up and up and thought she was doing the right thing. Her winter heating will cost her $5,000 US!!! We are so glad to be away from that six month winter.

    This climate change seems to be coming on at a terrible pace and I hope we can reverse it.

    We are praying that the fires somehow stop.

  32. June, our winter-months have shrunken than what they were when we were children. We hardly get to wear any heavy woollens now.
    Wish man were not messing with nature.


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