We've had four days over 40degC - so relentlessly hot that the state government relaxed water restrictions that have been in place for years, and allowed backyard sprinklers for children to play under, to cool them down. Apparently, Ivanhoe in inland NSW was likely to be the hottest place on earth today at 47degC, or so one newspaper reported.
In Victoria, over eighty lives have been lost in dreadful bushfires. Read more here: (http://www.theage.com.au/national/death-toll-rises-from-bushfires-20090208-80jv.html?page=-1). Entire towns/villages wiped out.
Online donations can be made at the Bendigo Bank at this link or the National Australia Bank at this link.
Last month I was in Bendigo. Yesterday, thirty homes on its outskirts were burned out completely. As we drove through the countryside then, we saw how very very dry it was. Add fire and wind, and disaster is horribly easy to understand. When you learn that half of Australia's bushfires are the work of arsonists (likely including some of these Victorian fires), you're even more horrified.
And not forgetting that in North Queensland, floods that had receded are returning. It's a "wilful, lavish land" all right, "droughts and flooding rains" (see Dorothea Mackellar's poem, "My Country", which I won't put here in full because it's still copyright).