Canberra Bushfires

Sent: Sunday, 19 January 2003 9:07 PM

To: TAPR Board of Directors

Subject: [tapr-board] A not so successful Ham meeting in Oz…


John and I went down to the Australian Capital this weekend… For those
that have not heard, this coincided with a STATE OF EMERGENCY with bushfires
burining out of control in the city causing extensive devistation.

On Friday John and I went down to Mt Stromlow observatory, but we got there
just before closing so we did not go inside. We just looked arround outside
without getting out of the car… John decided not to take any photos…
Pity… They would have been the last before the place was devistated by the
fire on Saturday… Story on SlashDot

Following that we visited the Tidbinbilla NASA tracking station which I
think still exists, but we cannot be sure since the police have closed the
roads. The station has been unmanned since Midnight Saturday. If anything I
would expect grass fires only.

Saturday was more interesting with temperatures up to 35c (100f) and high
winds. Things were fine until after we had visited the war memorial and came
out about 3:00 PM.

I have attached the proto of what we saw. That is looking towards parliment
house from the war memorial. After that we had lunch and heard the emergency
alerts on the FM radio. After lunch we went to the national archives and
then back to the hotel.

Before dinner we decided to grab a look at the fires from a tall mountain…
Black mountain was a hassle since the roads to it seemed to be closed. After
the 2nd abortive loop we found the back way, but there was a barricade when
we got to the entrance road [well, the road from there is straight up for 2
miles in bushland – and a single road only]. Thanks to other road closures,
we were actually funnelled to drive towards the fires… Seems they forgot to
block a road… We turned around when the smoke started getting in the
vehicle and we could see the smoke rising from about 1/2 mile away…

We then attempted to visit Mt Ainsle and had no success, with the first
manned road block – all the other were just barricades placed there. Dinner
in the center of canberra was eerie, with almost no people. There were so
many burnt leaves on the ground, and even bits of bark… After tea things
were a bit cooler thanks to a change. The VISA systems were down in the city
thanks to the fires.

Going back to the motel we were passed by six fire vehicles heading to a new
fire north – towards our escape route… Not good. When I got back to the
hotel I found that the DNS for Australia APRS was down, thanks to a
CoLocation center being out of power, and the US$500,000 in servers being in
a hams lounge room away from the fire front. They had emailed the AU, VK2,
VK1, ZL mailing lists with the IP addresses of the servers…

Sunday (today) was just as interesting… After checking out we visited the
Mint after checking the devistation from one of the mountains… not much
was visible. Many people were at the mint because it was open.. Many other
places were not – but there was an alarm going off, probably caused by the
power going off at some stage.

After the mint we visited the local trash and treasure… It was fun…
Driving through a number of traffic lights where there was no power at all.
At the site there were only about 10 hams present… many of the people
planning to attend were unable to get there thanks to having to protect
their homes. Others decided to stay since they were amongst the 250,000
without power. This was going to be a chance for the people of canberra to
hear more about TAPR and just get to talk to us… In the end both john and
I picked up bargains, and between us doubled the sales at the event.


I can assure you I am glad to be home…