So a few days ago, I received an email from a family member informing me that the firestorm that ravaged the Warrumbungle Range of northern NSW did in fact pass through my grandparents bit of property in the bush. In the words of a neighbor, "it looks like Hiroshima after the bomb." Luckily, they were visiting family on the coast and were not harmed, but it really is a shame considering their age and the beauty of the place. The house was built with mud bricks made by my grandfather from the nearby creek; there were three or four small orchards; they had a view of the nearby observatory from their back veranda; and the house was filled with all of their books, pictures, work, and products of their seemingly endless travels around the globe. It was really a beautiful, little place. The wildlife in that part of Australia is second to none. As a kid on my visits there, I can remember being woken up at the crack of dawn by emus pecking at the window, and the kangaroos, which had become so used to them, would simply continue foraging even if you were only within an arms length. Again, exotic flora and fauna of this region is without comparison.
As members of the scientific community, they do not seem terribly disheartened by the matter - since this is simply how the ecosystem of that continent works - but at 70 and 80 years old, the idea of starting over must seem exhausting, at best.
Here's an interview with them on the 7:30 report (they are interviewed at 4:20): http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3672522.htm
The Warrumbungles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrumbungles
With a rapidity that the United States could take a lesson from, the other morning they had an assessor at the property and the money for their policy was in their bank account the same afternoon. I think that is quite amazing.