Black Thursday (6th February 1851)

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ALANM
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:57 pm
Location: Tasmania

Black Thursday (6th February 1851)

Post by ALANM » Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:29 pm

Black Thursday (6th February 1851)
(By Alan McCosker March 2020)

The country was a furnace, just waiting to be lit
a campfire unnattended, said to be the cause of it
through the year of 1850, drought had dried and crisped the land
on 6th of February ’51, Black Thursday dealt a fiery hand

Searing hot gales from the North, fanned the raging flames
as from the Plenty Ranges, the demonic bushfire came
it swept across Victoria, Dantes Inferno off the leash
no one could stand before it, twelve died in the smouldering ash

From way out in the Wimmera, down through Macedon to Geelong
from Portland ‘round to Heidelberg and on to Dandenong
from Western Port to Gippsland, nearly all was turned to ash
smoke and embers filled the air, as Black Thursday plied the lash

In Melbourne Town the day began, with scorching wind and cloudless sky
but by noon the town was under, blinding dust and black smoke sky
the heat rose on, way past one hundred, the North wind shrieked and moaned
and the streets became deserted, as people cowered in their homes

Through the day the heat kept rising, the gales grew even stronger
out in Bass Strait, twenty miles at sea, embers rained down on a Schooner
thick black smoke and cinders blew, all the way down to Tasmania
you could smell the eucalyptus smoke, the smell of death becoming stronger

A settler on the Diamond Creek, lost his wife and five young children
turned to ash before his eyes, a horror, to never be forgotten
at Barrabool, three more lives were lost and three more at Macedon
how many other lives were lost, is unlikely to be known

Swag men and miners roamed the land, seeking better days
how many of them perished, there were none left to say
like the squatters and the settlers, they too, fled before the flames
it’s most likely, not all found safe refuge, on that fearsome day

They say it burnt a million sheep, left just, charred piles on the ground
and cattle by the thousands, in fenced corners, huddled as they burned
the fauna of the bushland, could not escape the conflagration
the bushfolk ran to water courses, to escape incineration

There were no airborne tankers then, no fire trucks, with lights a’flashing
just brave people with wet bags and bushes, at the flames were vainly bashing
Black Thursday roared and ate them up, burned the very air they breathed
burned itself into their memory, as hell, issued forth a living breathing fiend.

When at last they could return, to their smouldering blackened homesteads
picked their way through charcoal corpses, of their stock and native animals
saw their crops and gardens vanished, dams and water troughs boiled dry
most of those who had survived, just stared, few had the strength to cry

When the fire was finally done, the people met down at Geelong
and vowed and pledged to give relief, to those whose livelehoods were gone
love and understanding, was there for those who were bereaved
and this spirit still lives on today, each time the hell fiend breathes.

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