REAL AUSTRALIA

The Voice of Real Australia: Was that 'the weekend we had to have'?

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Smoke and the fires as seen from a Kangaroo Island property just west of Stokes Bay. Photo: Ro Anna Horbel.

Smoke and the fires as seen from a Kangaroo Island property just west of Stokes Bay. Photo: Ro Anna Horbel.

There are just some things you can count on at this time of year - a "frenzy" at a fish market, a heatwave, highway delays and melting roads.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Some may say they are all seasonal media constructs. But then again, most everything comes back to "The Media" is these days. But that's a whole new matter ... to loosely quote someone else, today's not the day to talk about that.

Just as the recession which hit the nation in the early 90s was "the recession we had to have", presumably we all just experienced "the weekend we had to have".

It was lit. And not in that Urban Dictionary kind of way. It was literally lit.

From the mainland where the destruction stretched from Adelaide to the outskirts of Sydney and down to the NSW South Coast where the firefront is the odd 80k wide.

The devastation isn't limited to the mainland as Tasmania dealt with dozens of fires over the weekend and South Australia's Kangaroo Island was ablaze, too.

Tales of remarkable survival, generosity and head-shakingly amazing bravery thankfully rise about the politicians' empty rhetoric.

Lindsay Lavis stands in front of his house at Tianjara on the NSW South Coast. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos.

Lindsay Lavis stands in front of his house at Tianjara on the NSW South Coast. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos.

How can you not feel for Lindsay Lavis whose NSW South Coast property was destroyed on Saturday?

He explained to Canberra Times reporter Doug Dingwall how he, and volunteers, tried to defend his Tianjara property.

"I've never seen anything like it. The darkness of the smoke would kill you before the fire would. That's how it was. You couldn't breathe. There was no oxygen. It sort of just went white, and then black, and then you couldn't breathe."

Lindsay is Every Man. He might very well have been speaking for thousands of grateful, soot-stained homeowners across the nation and the thousands of volunteers on the firefront who managed to survive the weekend Armageddon.

Included in that list also should be Australian Defence Force personnel who have provided all manner of support for a number of weeks, not on the frontline and most of it sans fanfare.

The Department of Defence has reminded us the ADF is not trained, equipped or certified to undertake ground-based or aerial bush firefighting and does not get involved in the direct act of fighting bushfires outside Defence property.

Beyond helping the movement of volunteer firies, catering for them and helping accommodate them, Defence is involved in daytime search and rescue, as well as night-time fire mapping and support missions.

Members of the Tytherleign family are escorted from an MRH-90 at HMAS Albatross by Leading Seaman Aircrewman Ben Nixon and Rural Fire Service employee Dwyane Graham after being evacuated from their property near Tianjara in NSW.

Members of the Tytherleign family are escorted from an MRH-90 at HMAS Albatross by Leading Seaman Aircrewman Ben Nixon and Rural Fire Service employee Dwyane Graham after being evacuated from their property near Tianjara in NSW.

We know it's not over yet - far from it. Not for the firies, the behind-the-sceners, the pollies and certainly not for Lindsay.

He - and the other devastated but insured homeowners - now have the joy of dealing with insurance companies.

Fires in NSW and Queensland in December and November have resulted in 2306 claims, with losses estimated at about $182.6m, one media entity reported today.

And that is, apparently, on top of claims in September worth $37m and October claims of $19m.

And those figures will only ever head north given the hell that has been December.

So this is when it gets real. When we're stripping it back to economic value, to the impact on consumer spending, to a drop in GDP growth.

In the meantime, say their names.

Young dads Geoff Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer were the two NSW RFS volunteers killed last week.

Life actually doesn't get any more real than death.

Janine Graham, ACM digital news editor

In other news across Australia ...

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