We traveled to Port Arthur the most south eastern part of Tasmania on the Tasman Peninsula. On the way we went through the scene of devastating “bush” fires that raced through the town of Dunalley in early January. It was quite a moving experience to see house addresses spray painted on fences or trees where the only evidence of a house being on that property being a stone foundation, or a fireplace and chimney. Many yards still had the burned out skeletons of automobiles sitting in them. There was a flurry of activity at the local elementary school that had obviously lost many of its classrooms to the fire. A number of workers were busily preparing the school yard to receive emergency portable classrooms for the beginning of classes the first week of February.
A number of local businesses such as a well-known bakery were nothing more than rubble. Many tourist businesses that survived the fire, have noticed a drop in business as tourists are avoiding the area thinking that entire area has been affected. In fact, the government and media in Tasmania have urged all who happen to be travelling through Dunalley to stop and support the remaining businesses.
While driving through the rural areas, we noticed temporary signs indicating livestock may be on the highway because a lot of the fence posts of stock fences had been destroyed by fire. Yet amongst the devastation of blackened trees and fields, and the very strong smell of burnt buildings, we saw numerous work crews clearing trees along the road as well as volunteers aiding farmers lay new fences to keep their stock off the road. Even though signs of recovery are everywhere, the people in this part of Tasmania have many months and years of rebuilding ahead of them.