Here are photos I posted last year after a trip to Victoria and a drive home through the lovely towns of Healesville and Marysville and surrounding beautiful countryside.
As you all now know, following the most devastating fires in Australia's history, the township of Marysville has been at least 90% destroyed, and all the countryside in these photos is now a blackened vista of Hell.
My heart breaks for the thousands of people who have lost loved family members, friends, neighbours, homes, businesses and stock throughout Victoria. One cannot begin to imagine the horrors these folk have already endured and will continue to suffer in the weeks ahead. (The death toll tonight is 131, but that is expected to rise to over 200 as many people are still unaccounted for .)
Nor can one comprehend the sick obsession that sees people deliberately light fires, and in some cases then 'pretend' to help extinguish them, but not before they have brought death and destruction on an unimagineable scale.
But let's not forget the incredible courage and fortitude shown by so many firefighters, who put themselves at great personal risk in order to save people and property. They really are a special breed.
What has happened to my beloved Victoria? The countryside will regenerate, towns like Kinglake, Marysville and others will be rebuilt (they have in the past), and even the forests will regrow, but I fear that many people may never quite recover from this tragedy. Our thoughts, our prayers and our tears are all on your behalf.