Our second night in the bush: It is a beautiful evening and we are alone in Buandik bush camp in the western side of the Grampians. The other couple had left and the two guys have not returned to camp yet, so it is just us. That little green dot between the trees is our tent.
10 p.m. Oliver is picking up his mobile phone dialing 000. Which gets answered with: “Is it really an emergency? Do you need police, fire or ambulance?” How did we end up calling the emergency number? Let me take you back to minutes before.
But not before a quick note for the (grand) parents, to re-assure them, in Dutch and German. The story will continue in English afterwards.
Jullie weten dat we weer veilig thuis zijn.
Ihr wißt dass wir gesund und heile zu Hause sind.
9.30 p.m. The children had just gone to bed and we were sitting in our chairs listening to the sounds of the bush, slowly discovering one star after the other, waiting for the next one to appear. Suddenly I saw a glow on the left hand side, on top of a nearby mountain. “Is that a fire?”, I said to Oliver. We looked closer and then clearly saw flames. What do you do then? Honestly, we had no clue, so this is what we did.
9.45 p.m. First we assessed which way our escape route was, since there is only one way out of camp with a regular car. That was a bit confusing, as the road was circling around the campsite and then we had to turn right, so that meant that our road out is at the opposite site of the fire. Good news.
9.52 p.m. How quick could we move? Very quickly if necessary, we would grab the kids and jump in the car.
9.53 p.m. How serious was the situation? We looked at the emergency.vic.gov.au App, where you can browse over a map with warnings. Nothing on there for our region.
9.56 p.m. Wait, every fire starts somewhere and since there was no one else there it might be up to us to judge. There where no other people in camp, remember? Well, that was pretty hard to tell. We decided to wait a little bit to see if it would get bigger.
9.57 p.m. “We have already been looking for a long time, right?”
9.58 p.m. Of course seconds seem like hours, so probably within one minute we felt the fire getting clearer and bigger, that it was also getting darker at the same time was not something we took into account.
So that is when we decided to call the alarm number. After a couple questions and the fact that there were no other people calling in, it was already clear to them that there was no immediate danger. Well, it least they have out number and in case there was a fire I am sure they will contact us.
10.01 p.m. After the call we feel more reassured. We are packing our loose items into the car, so we will be ready to leave quickly if necessary.
10.12 p.m. A weird sound is coming from the tent. It sounds like someone is trying to get close to the tent. We get a torch and solve the mystery: we are being disturbed by a possum walking by, searching for leftover food.
11.45 p.m. Keeping us busy makes the time move quicker. By the time we are done packing the fire is just a small glow and hardly visible anymore, so we feel secure enough to get into our tent.
Looking back at it, was it really an emergency? We have called the alarm number rather quickly. But maybe understandable with the bush fires at the Great Ocean Road in mind, that are still raging. And bush camping in Australia being a whole new dimension for us, with new dangers that we are not accustomed to. After all, we are just beginners at it. Next time we will be a bit more Australian about it and keep calm longer. And if that does not work, let our watch be the judge of time and not our mind.