From the Ashes – Max

From the ashes

Words and photos MAX COLLETT

Amid the plodding repetition of Melbourne’s longest lockdown, in which the boundaries of one’s imagination became increasingly defined by their five-kilometer perimeter, I received permission to escape to Gippsland, in eastern Victoria, to volunteer with the rebuild following Black Summer bushfires.

I was there to fix fences, but besides learning how to twitch a wire and hammer a post, I bore witness to the rebirth of a landscape, a spirit, and a community.

Eucalypts sprouting epicormic growth – a desperate bid for sunlight and survival. Scorched tree ferns, multicentenarian markers of moisture, bursting with Granny Smith-hued fireworks in their rebirth. A landscape of the brightest greens and the darkest blacks.

From the ashes of this town’s devastation, rose love, hope, friendship, humanity. Neighbour helping neighbour, stranger helping a stranger. A deep bond, forged in flames, and quenched by compassion. Is this mateship?