'You live in the bush. You live by the rules of the bush, and that's it.' These were the reflective words of Mrs Dunlop upon seeing the blackened rubble of her home, which made headline news the morning after the first, and most destructive, fire front tore through the Blue Mountains in New South Wales on 17 October 2013 (Partridge and Levy, 2013). While seemingly a simple statement, it goes right to the heart of heated public and political debates - past and present - over who belongs where and why in the fire-prone landscapes that surround Australia's cities. Bushfire is a constant and ongoing part of Australian history, ecology and culture. The love of a sunburnt country, the beauty and terror of fire, and the filmy veil of post-fire greenness described in the century-old poem 'Core of My Heart' (Mackellar, 1908) are still apt depictions of Australian identity today. Yet longer fire seasons and an increase in extreme fire weather days with climate change add both uncertainty and urgency to Australia's ability to coexist with fire in the future (Head et al., 2013).
Eriksen, C. & Head, L. (2014). Geographical fire research in Australia: Review and prospects. Geographical Research, 52 (1), 1-5.