Forces of nature

There has been much discussion in recent times about how floods and fire have shaped the Victorian landscape. One of my mentors, the late Ron Hateley, wrote a fabulous book on landscape history in which he highlighted the often overlooked role that wind has also played. In The Victorian Bush – its ‘original and natural’ condition, he argues convincingly that localised cyclonic wind events, often over summer, contributed significantly to the structure of the pre-settlement forests and woodlands. Ron was a wonderful interpreter of landscape change. He studied a landscape as a detective would look at a crime scene, in an effort to reconstruct its history and to understand the role that natural and human forces had played in contributing to its current state.

Earlier this year – I can’t recall the exact date – a series of mini tornadoes wreaked havoc across central Victoria, leaving a trail of destruction from Avoca to Newstead and beyond. The evidence of this dramatic event will be obvious for years to come.


This massive eucalypt was uprooted in the aforementioned storm event, Garsed Road Strangways, 13th May 2015.


More damage along Strangways School Road.


The crown of this Yellow Gum has been completely removed.

5 responses to “Forces of nature

  1. Excellent observations, writing, and photos! Thanks, Geoff!

  2. In the Newstead Echo from well over a 100 years ago there was a story about a cyclonic /tornado event that tossed a loaded wagon full of wool bales and a swagman went missing. I remember the one at Yandoit Hills that resulted in the deaths of 2 people. you can still see iron wrapped around trees in the area.

    • ” leaving a trail of destruction from Avoca ….”I notice the chainsaws have been out in photo2 already. The need to “clean-up” fallen timber seems deeply imbedded, yet fallen logs and leaf litter is exactly what our landscape needs most of all, see David Lindenmayer ‘What Makes A Good Farm For Wildlife?’ CSIRO 2011. Number of species WITH fallen logs contrasts sharply with no logs. Read bird ‘food’. Firewood cutting these days should be deeply frowned on.

  3. David & Helen Merrick

    We were in the Grampians that night,28th Feb, We saw the devastation on the way home to Bendigo the next day.

  4. David Griffiths

    Yeah saw the chainsaw activity as well, if anyone sees the wood rats stop and tell to to pack up, it is a prohibited activity and fines will be issued. If they crack up take their rego and contact local laws at council. If you want to see real destruction from the big wind have a look on the rd from Daylesford to Creswick.

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