Fire in the sky

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Early this morning I could feel that I was in for a hot day. I have no idea of the actual temperatures but over the years I have learned to feel the temp while riding a motorcycle. There comes a time that riding with a closed helmet is cooler and more comfortable than riding with a open helmet while being exposed to a wind temperatures like the air emitted from a hair dryer. The "close the helmet" point is usually around the 34-36 degrees. Around 10.30AM I could feel that it would be a very hot day and what was worse  was 60 km per winds blowing from the west. A combination of these two  components usually mean a very high bush fire risk.

On entering Sydney I headed for the Opera House. The  road was blocked off (security reasons) but the friendly security guard let me through without a permit as long as I would be back within 3 minutes. My request to ride to  the steps just to take a picture was a regular occurrence so there was no big issue. Meanwhile, the hot winds where howling around the buildings, it was best to get away quick before I would be caught with blocked roads and leave my planned ferry trip to Manly for another time.

Just outside the city I had to close my helmet  as it was getting too hot. (I  read later that by 11 am it was already 32 degrees.)

Travelling along the freeway towards  New Castle I was overtaken by several fire trucks , things did not look good. The worst part was that at time I would fight a head wind and minutes later I would feel being pushed along enjoying a tailwind.  If there were fires they could surprise many, as they could travel in any direction.  Near New Castle, while everything looked fine I was suddenly confronted with flames across the road. Cars had stopped and were back tracking with their lights flashing. The wind had changed again so I gave it a try. Problem number two was the smoke. A police car blocked the road, the officer requested that I would not proceed as it was not known what was happening further up the freeway.

I turned back and joined the traffic doing  a detour, only to be stopped again and asked to turn left as the fire had changed direction . Overhead I could see helicopters with water bags trying to extinguish the fires. After going around the problem area I pulled over in a large service station to get a cold drink and to wash my face. (because of the smoke)

I finally made it to Port Macquarie , a beautiful coastal town about 400 km north of Sydney. At arrival I watched the news and found that many parts of this state are on fire and that many houses have been lost. The temp was around 35 degrees with wind gusts up to 80 km per hour.  

I hope it will be cooler tomorrow. calls it the worst fires in a decade, so a lot must be going on. I remember that some years ago the main freeway north was in part on fire as well. Most bitumen has now been replaced with concrete.
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ab on

Zelfs in Holland is het iedere avond in het journaal

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