Early in September this year (2019), bushfires wiped out historic Binna Burra Lodge in the Lamington National Park in Queensland, together with portion of the National Park itself. Look at the photo above. Does this look like something that would burn easily?
Lamington is warm temperate rainforest. It was formed when most of the earth’s land mass was contained in the supercontinent we call Gondwana. So Lamington in some shape or form has existed for hundreds of millions of years. That makes it older, arguably, than the dinosaurs. By far. Does this sound like something that would burn easily?
It should not burn easily. But we have managed to burn it.
Who are ‘we’? My answer would be humankind in the thrall of unfettered industrial development. Who else?
If we subtract the date the industrial revolution started from today’s date, we get around 170 years. That’s about how long it took us to learn how to burn something that by its very nature should be unburnable. Something that’s been around more-or-less without threat of burning for a factor of 100, 000, 000 years. To call this a priceless antique would be an outrageous understatement.
I first visited Lamington in the 1970s for one day only, in September I believe, and will remember the impression it made on me until my final moments on this planet. Frequently and quite deliberately, I call up the memory of that day so as to polish it till it gleams, before setting it back in place in some readily retrievable recess of my mind. I treasure that memory.
On that day, I left Binna Burra Lodge for a walk that would take me about six hours return. For my whole journey, the terrain looked like the picture above. I had no specific destination. Each point in my journey was in itself a destination so seductive as to take my breath away. Words, even pictures, cannot convey what I felt. The canopy overhead wrapped round me like a moist green cave, sanctuary from all the bustle of my then life in the big city. Sights to which the above photo can’t do complete justice, sounds of birdlife in essential harmony with the environment, smells conveyed on the freshest of fresh air, and the touch of gentle temperature and humidity on my skin, made for a total experience of pure magic.
Six hours later I emerged. Outside, unawares to me, it had been raining. But, within the rainforest itself, the raindrops had been collected as they fell by the thick fleshy leaves of the canopy, turned to invisible vapour, and blended into the benevolent air. I had had no need of an umbrella during my walk.
Does this sound like something that would burn? You might as well try to burn the Great Barrier Reef.
Oops. I do believe we’re working on it.