At odds with its destructive nature, only the heat from a bushfire fire can trigger germination in certain native flora —a hopeful light amongst the blackened trunks of the charred forest.
26 Feb 2019 - 9 May 2019
Mount Buangor State Park stands at the far end of the Great Dividing Range, 60 kilometres west of Ballarat, in Victoria’s southern Pyrenees Ranges. The park’s highest peak, Mount Buangor itself, rises almost 1000m above sea level.
While the surrounding country is predominately agricultural, and despite the early logging industry in the area, the slopes of Mount Buangor and its neighbouring summits have returned to their original, densely forested state.
Beereep-Beereep, meaning ‘wild mount’, is the name given to these bushlands in the Djab Wurrung language of the Beeripmo balug people, upon whose country it stands.
Yarra Gums and Manna Gums jostle alongside the creek flats, Red Stringybarks predominate in the park’s west, while Messmates and Blue Gums prefer the coolness of the southern slopes. The lush gullies in the mountain’s folds teem with tree ferns, while Snow Gums litter the higher reaches of the summit.
Melbourne artist and College alumna Vicky Watts (TC 1980) has a studio at her rural farming property a short distance from Mount Buangor, which she visited for the first time in 2010 in the aftermath of a controlled burn:
The reality of Australia’s environment and climate makes bush fires an inevitability during the summer. But losses caused to humans are often at odds with the natural environment.
My depictions of the singed landscapes throw a positive spin on the connotations of bush fires, invoking the regeneration which stems from the blaze.