National Museum of Australia   

Some stories may be distressing. Get support.
This website may have names and images of
deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Quiet Halls

None of us in Canberra were directly under threat from the fires, but almost all of us had family in more vulnerable parts of the country. At the company where I worked, the hallways were silent save for hushed conversations about which towns were being threatened that week. Occasionally, I’d walk past a room and hear the familiar sound of ABC Radio providing news updates on the fires. Someone said that you’d think there was a war going on with how intently and grimly we were following the news.

At one point, a grass fire started in Majura and raced towards the Canberra Airport. All of us put down our work to watch the flames eclipse tall trees and the helicopters battle winds to draw water from the nearby river. There was a deep anxiety as we all realised that the only thing keeping us out of harm’s way was the wind direction. Were it to swing, there would be nought but 400m of dead grass between us and the fire. There was a tense few hours of waiting for the evacuation order to come. We passed the time by contacting people we believed to be in the line of danger to ensure they were ready to evacuate.

The Quiet Halls

Explore more stories