One year on.
I remember the heat building the days before Black Saturday - knowing that it was going to be a bad bushfire day. Having it in the back of my mind that there would be a slight possibility that 'a fire' could come over our hill or close enough that I'd need to take the boys and get out of the area - possibly to MIL's down on the coast.
I remember, telling Martin & the boys that it would not be a good idea to go to the swimming hole we'd found the week before near Drouin.
I remember watching the smoke, trying to find out if it was coming our way.
I remember knowing that our neighbour, a CFA dude would not leave his wife and girls in danger - as they stayed put, so did we.
I remember using the internet to track incidents on the CFA site.
I remember worrying more about Drouin and Lang Lang than Kinglake.
I remember listening to the radio, hearing that the Princes Highway was blocked to traffic, just a few miles up the road.
I remember thinking - we're in outer suburbia - we should be fine (and remembering the stories of Canberra a few years previously)
I remember waking up on the Sunday, to the gradual news that whole communities were lost - which meant a whopping loss of property and more devastaingly, loss of life.
I remember getting the Herald Sun newspaper for the pictoral coverage - I don't buy newspapers. I think I still have that issue somewhere.
I remember the photos posted on the 123 board - links to footage shot. This is where I came to make sure that our stitching family were safe.
I remember that Melisa's parents had lost their home the week before all this devastation - we were already rallying to support them any way we could.
I remember photos of Sam the Koala.
I remember the shock of realising just how far-reaching these fires were.
I remember calling my father to make sure he was ok - he had been working on the SES radio room for the day.
I remember callling my sister - and her speaking to me - she worked a 20 hour shift that day in the CFA radio room, helping with the Horsham fires. She knows people who were directly affected by those fires. She also knows people killed in Kinglake - she had lived there for 15 years. The farm she lived at is no more.
I remember listening to radio reports - how people were on mobile phones to loved ones as fire swept over them.
I remember reading stories of survivors - and of those who lost families.
I remember the days of not knowing the full total of lives lost.
I remember the feeling of helplessness - not having had to evacuate, not knowing anybody directly, not being able to supply my time to help. Not being financial enough to donate more than a few dollars at a time. Not having space in my home to host somebody. Not owning a caravan to donate to somebody now homeless. Not having clothing to donate as everything had gone to the thrift shop two weeks previously.
I remember two weeks after the fire, going to that same waterhole the boys had wanted to go to.
I remember seeing and smelling the scorched earth right up to that waterhole.
I remember seeing regrowth - the aussie bush is like that - sometimes it needs fire to re-generate.
I remember travelling down the highway towards Warragul and Moe and seeing the line where the fire stopped and crossed.
I've not travelled to visit Marysville or Kinglake yet.
I remember the sense of Aussie Mateship as the community rallied to support the victims of the fires. I know some people will never recover, but there are scores of families rebuilding their lives.