On this day: the Black Thursday Bushfires

William Strutt, Black Thursday, February 6th (detail), 1864. Australian Art. Bushfires.

As depicted by English-born artist William Strutt in 1864.

One of the worst bushfire disasters in recorded Australian history, the Black Thursday fires took place on the 6th of February, 1851, in the colony of Victoria.

Severe drought in 1850 helped to create the conditions ideal for bushfires. An estimated maximum temperature of 47 °C and strong winds on the day of the disaster magnified the situation.

It is believed the fire started when two bullock drivers left burning logs unattended.

The disaster claimed the lives of twelve people and many animals, and caused significant damage to the countryside.

3 thoughts on “On this day: the Black Thursday Bushfires

  1. […] via On this day: the Black Thursday Bushfires | In Times Gone By… […]

  2. This bushfire is worst only in the sense of the area burnt (5 million hectares/19,000+ square miles) although twelve deaths are recorded. Most of us measure the severity of a bushfire by the loss of human life. By far the worst bushfire was 2009 Black Saturday fires here in Victoria, ‘only’ 450,000 hectares burnt but there were 173 deaths. From memory the temperature reached about 46 degrees C in Melbourne. Prior to that there were heavy tolls in terms of human life in Victoria in 1926 (60 people and 260,000 ha) and 1939 Black Saturday (71 people and 2 million ha.), in Victoria and South Australia in 1983 Ash Wednesday (75 people and 418,000 ha) and in Tasmania in 1967 Black Tuesday (62 people and 264,000 ha). The descriptor Black is appropriate for a number of reasons. Prior to the Ash Wednesday fires there had been a prolonged drought and on 8 Feb there was a giant dust storm which brought the red dust from the Mallee and Wimmera (roughly 250 miles away) through Melbourne. This was the topsoil from the severely drought affected areas. I was working in the city at the time and the dust billowed down the streets, darkening the sky. The fires occurred a week later on 16 Feb. Often with these fires ash carries on the air, and although I lived near the middle of the city, miles from the fires, I came home to ash on the window sills. Bushfire is a word that strikes terror into the heart of any Australian. While the burning of the landscape and the deaths of animals is horrible, the deaths of other people by fire is heartbreaking.

  3. Iva P. says:

    47 °C? It looks like the global warming has been going on for some time now. 🙂

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