The Kimberley is burning! A lightning strike on Ellenbrae Station in late September started the fire and it spread rapidly across 1.5 million hectares of land. Many of the places we visited had the fires come through. El Questro has been badly damaged and the tented cabins we stayed in have been destroyed.
It is the end of the dry season and the accompanying tourist season so El Questro had already closed for the winter and all staff had left so the fire was not immediately reported.
An Aboriginal community at Ngallagunda was threatened but was saved though the fires came very close.
The indigenous people have always used fire as a way of replenishing the grasslands and many of the native flora have adapted to fire as a way of stimulating seed growth. But controlled burning usually occurs in the spring when the risk of fires spreading is low after the wet winter. In October, the land is dry and waiting for rain and the risk of fire is correspondingly much higher.
But already, now that the rains have started and now that the fires are dwindling, new green shoots are appearing and soon, the Kimberley will once again provide fodder for the many thousand cattle which range across its acres and sustenance and homes for the wildlife in the area.
And rebuilding will begin almost immediately.