Black Summer Bushfires

In late 2019 the black summer wildfires in Australia came within minutes of my home town, devastating native bush and local farm land.

One month later a second fire came to threaten neighboring towns, and again destroyed huge areas of National Park and forests along with peoples homes and property.

Shortly after these early bushfires at home, the entire eastern coastline of Australia was burning and would continue to burn for three months.

The Black Summer bushfire season of 2019/20 would see countless fellow Australians lose their property, their homes, and their lives. Among the human loss would also be almost 18.6 million hectares of forest and bushland. As a result one billion animals were killed.

These fires were a result of over a decade of land and water mismanagement by the Australian Government resulting in severe drought, cuts to funding for forest and fire management, and this was fatefully ignited by the extremes of climate change.

I began working on a series of images exploring the impacts of these fires on the landscape around me. The original collection went into a limited edition photo book titled Scorched Earth, with all proceeds going towards the WWF Bushfire Emergency Fund.

Initially, these photographs were lifeless. Blackened earth. Empty forests. Raining ash. There was nothing left, it felt surreal. I hoped they would show the scale and detail of the wildfire aftermath.

As weeks and months went by, long missed rainfall breathed new life into these razed landscapes as the resilience and adaptability of the Australian bush began to bloom.

Within a few short months the uprising of regrowth and new growth in areas of bush land that were left as scorched, blackened earth changed the landscape entirely.

The scale and destruction of these fires is a stark wake-up call to the immense power of climate change and the dangers of failing our care of the environment that supports us.

There is still hope that among such loss we can find a renewed importance in protecting and prioritizing environmental science, land and water management.

We must seek change and adapt as our forests have done for thousands of years, or we too will be completely lost to the power and scale of mother nature as she undergoes the changes we’ve forced onto her.

About the author

Jeremy Billett

Jeremy is a passionate landscape photographer based in Australia sharing his experiences on location and photographing remote and wilderness areas.

Add Comment