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.