Pic: Rob Blakers

Those driving past Brady’s Lookout early yesterday afternoon, towards Launceston, would have seen one of the most magnificent scenic vistas in the hills to the east of Launceston that they are ever likely to view.

Rising from the ground was the most beautiful cauliflower cloud of smoke, extending mile-high above the horizon, merging spectacularly through the clouds in the overcast sky, its beauty dwarfing to insignificance everything for miles on end.

The only thing missing to the naked eye from so many kilometres away was the brilliance of the flames, the heat of the sterilisation of the soil burning into the ground, sapping the soil deliciously of organic matter and anything that might compete with the civilising transformation of the land.

But that sadly missed sight was compensated by the wondrous broad sweep of smoke which enveloped the land to the east as far as the eye could see, swamping a clear view of the hills behind with its comforting umbrella of life-giving, purifying dark grey air.  What a pity it was blanketing an area where so few people could take immediate advantage of its health-bestowing properties.  If only the wind had been blowing from the east it would have enabled all Launcestonians to benefit, clearing their sinuses of city dust, opening their lungs to the cleansing which only a solid cough and wheeze can do so efficaciously.

But not to worry.  After all, it was just two days ago that the lucky people of the Tamar Valley had the wonderful opportunity to breathe in the perfumed air of dense wood smoke compulsorily.  Those whose washing was being dried outdoors were doubly blessed, having no need to apply deodorants for days, the sweet-smelling bounty of nature’s smoky thoroughness having deodorised shirts and socks quite nicely.

One thing remains quite puzzling.  For the life of me I cannot understand why those responsible for these mushroom clouds and broccoli shapes of such enormous grandeur don’t have the wit to advertise it more widely, especially to tourists.  It really does defy reason that the political representatives of Ta Ann in the Tasmanian Legislative Council don’t seek corporate sponsorship to ensure that busloads of spectators can be crammed into appropriate vantage points.  Just imagine the political kudos which would flow from even a small contribution from the corporate coffers for such a life-affirming experience, especially just before the weekend.

What a fantastic opportunity for self-promotion by the clear-felling forest industry is being lost here to educate the public about the splendours of sterilisation burns.  Surely Paul Harriss and Jim Wilkinson need to get a special Legislative Council enquiry underway to really establish the real reasons – yes, the real reasons – why Forestry Tasmania is not taking advantage of its alleged over-cutting and unsustainability by having tours of napalm burnoffs as they take place.  They could even organise barbecues in the burnoffs a day or two later, where people could still use hot embers without fear of starting bush fires.  With some forethought it could even save the taxpayer from having to subsidise Forestry Tasmania’s alleged unsustainable operations.

The whole tourist venture could then be topped off by an eco-walk around Gunns’ pulp mill site, and a lucky dip for someone to go to Sarawak with Paul Harriss.  On a holiday! 

First published: 2012-03-31 04:59 PM