Friday, April 28, 2017

Fire spotting

The radio is abuzz as the spotters take to the sky. And I'm scanning the misty hills for fire. There are columns of mist this morning rising from the karris like smoke streams. Pemby Spotter radios in the weather and visibility. Two English tourists lie on the granite, recovering from the climb. They don't know it, but they are lying right next to the local dugite's home.

I'm at the top of Mt Frankland on my second day on my own, spotting for fires with binocs. I've become one of the weird little cliques of society that people call 'freaks on peaks', those folk who spend days up a mountain looking for fires in fire country.

It's hazy. The Frankland Spotter is heading over to check fire report in Wellington, I hear. Flying time, 90 minutes. Bunbury, to pick someone up.

It's kinda nerve wracking and boring all at once. It's a bit like being at sea: long periods of boredom followed by brief, intense excitement. Of course I want to spot fires before the pilots do. (Doesn't everyone?) Eagles fly beneath me and I can see the patterns atop their wings.

'Walpole Office this is Frankland Tower,' I say.
'Go ahead Tower.'
'Weather. Winds south south west at 12 km per hr. Vis is 1,1,1,2. Temp 20 degrees. Relative humidity 83.'
'Copy that Tower.'

So ... my radio name is Tower now. How cool is that? I lock up the tower at the end of the day and climb down past ancient karris, jarrahs and tingle trees. The last bit is a sedate walk. That smell of the forest. I watch out for snakes. At the car park, I realise I feel amazing. At the end of a day's work at the service station I am quite fucked. But not today. Today I've been on the best job since I was fishing for a living and this job is pretty freaking good. It's making me feel better.


  1. Nobody to bother you, just you, all alone with the weather, the birds and the sky. Sounds pretty cool to me.

  2. I once had a hankering to be a lighthouse-keeper. What's a 'dugite'?

  3. Freakin fantastic. what a job! Love it. Debriefing with the birds.

    1. It is a splendid job, done for the season now.
      BTW, I met your mates for dinner today. Wonderful to have a chat with fellow writers!