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November 09, 2013 15:00 in News by Nea :: Article Rating

Fires of Mt Barney September 2013

So why did it burn??

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) had been monitoring the mountain for several years now to select the most ideal time to burn, and they have cancelled these plans several times when the conditions became unfavourable. So they were aware that the mountain was carrying a high fuel load.

Unfortunately just before the September school holidays, lost bushwalkers on SE Ridge lit an overnight signal fire that was not put out adequately enough. Although they walked out without assistance the next day, out of control fires , the potential of a wildfire was a very real possibility. It was clear to QPWS that with conditions of 38-40 degrees, gusty northerly winds, minimal soil moisture and a large remote fire,  that the best mitigation strategy was to do a top-down burn which in the adverse weather conditions was a cooler burn than just letting the existing fire burn upwards without plan.

So on September 23rd at about 1pm, all the peaks of Mt Barney were set alight via aerial ignition from a helicopter. This was a surreal moment, as all peaks started to release columns of grey smoke into the blue sky, and the ridges and faces of Mt Barney quickly became alight.

Those guests lucky enough to see the mountain alight at night will have something to talk about around the campfire for years to come!!

As an Ecotourism business at the base of Mt Barney, Mt Barney Lodge is very grateful to have the quick response and expertise of the QPWS rangers who dealt with the fire for several weeks. They managed what could have been a catastrophic fire professionally, protected the enjoyment of guests at the Lodge, and more importantly, cared for the unique Gondwanan plant and animal biodiversity that is unique to Mt Barney.

Images of Mt Barney alight have been shared via Facebook to than more than 30,000 people via Mt Barney Lodge’s Facebook page.  

Local Beaudesert photographer Rob Packer was in the right place at the right time, with the right equipment and a whole lot of patience to capture what has now become the iconic photo of the “Fires of Mt Barney”.

Rob says on his blog:

“Sometimes it all comes together in an unexpected way!
I saw this photo opportunity at 4 pm from 60 km away as I was heading back from Brisbane. After getting home and loading up some gear it took an hour of driving and an energetic 10 minute walk up the hill to get on location.
During the evening I recorded a time-lapse sequence, but just before leaving I took this series of photos for a panorama. Each vertical photo for the pano is a single image, no blending or PS (photo shop) magic.
A fire had been burning on the southern (left hand) slope of the mountain on Sunday evening. It was decided to reduce the risk of that fire getting out of control by lighting spot fires on the northern slope during the day on Monday. With the wind blowing from the north, this is the result. Add to that perfectly clear skies above the mountain and it was the perfect recipe for a rare photo opportunity."

Purchase a print.

Copies of this amazing image as a numbered edition print are available from Robs website: http://www.robpackerphotography.com/gallery/fires-of-mt-barney .

Innes has already put in his order for a 90 x 60cm print, as this event is unlikely to be captured again in our lifetime!! This photo is so good, that Rob is planning on entering it into international photography competitions. The 30,000 Facebook fans back up this hunch!!

Rob also took a great time-lapse video:

Despite the fires commencing at the beginning of the September school holidays, conditions were still perfect at Mt Barney Lodge as the prevailing winds pushed the smoke to the south and west, leaving the grounds clear of smoke for most of the time. The mountain was most spectacular at night, when time-lapse and slow-shutter photography condensed what were occasional plumes of fire from sporadic hot spots into an image that suggested an exploding volcano!!! The reality of night time viewing was lots of mini campfires dotted across the mountain, with the occasional flareup. By day, the fire viewing was an anti-climax, as the planned slow burn just grumbled down the mountain over a period of several weeks.

The Mt Barney portion of the park was closed for the entire duration of the school holidays, with only a few visitors being unaware that this safety precaution had been made. Mt Barney Lodge posted updates to the park closure throughout the holidays on Facebook, and guests were advised over the phone to visit the Queensland Government website  to check latest park closure information. Access was still open to Mt Gilles and Mt Maroon for those hikers who wanted a more physical challenge.



Related Images

  • Fires of Mt Barney September 2013
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