Photographer Jocelyn Carlin

The Black and Brown State of Victoria

My long lost cousin Harry from the King Country adopted Victoria in the sixties. He found his ancestry in Bendigo where our great grandparents Sarah Ann and Mathew Henry were married. They had made their way together at least for a while as Harry and Sally, eventually with her brood Sally moved alone to New Zealand. Her mother Henrietta Harriet had arrived in Van Dieman's Land (Hobart) an 18-year-old convict and died in Eaglehawk, a mother of 7 at 39.

We are, in part, the stuff of Australia.

Cousin Harry was adopted out of the family at birth and we had hardly met. The dust and dirt of Bendigo willed him a claim on the name of Harry Carlin.

Linda my sister, in the last few years has taken on Melbourne, and Healesville.

The second thing I knew of the fires was her timely communiqué to the greater family on February 8th.

... thought I'd let you know we made it to Melbourne last night. The fires are close, though, I believe they'll not reach the house. There are lots of bits flying through the air I'd prefer to be around to deal with if they cause a spot fire, but for the sake of everyone getting some sleep I decided to come to Kyle's place...

It's truly, amazing, the winery where we had lunch yesterday is the centre of one of the bigger fires, must have started about an hour after we left. The other just over the hill by the golf course is the one we saw start and take off so fast, that made us want to get out in the first place. Kyle said when I got here last night I reeked of smoke, it was in the air. My car certainly looks like it's been through an ash fall. Today is forecast to be 24, and some rain, so perhaps that will bring some relief. There are so many very sad stories heaps of homes lost, livestock burnt and at the moment 14 dead and 25 missing.

The rain has started here in Melbourne so I am hoping it is getting to the Yarra Valley...

I was in Kiribati at the time and had woken to Australian colleagues in the motel reading the news on laptops at breakfast.

Harry's emails followed with 'state over view media maps', pictures, and a blow-by-blow account of his CFA experiences.

'Come and stay for a while, I'll show you around', he said.

Emeretta Cross, an IKiribati national and friendly face in the climate wars let me know she was to be speaking at the Climate Action Network Australia Conference, on the 11th March,

'I'm coming over' I said.

'Of three converging extreme weather conditions that made parts of Victoria so volatile to bushfires on 'Black Saturday' 7th February, two can be attributed to the known rapid changing of climates, 45 degree temperatures and the dry caused by 15 - 20 year, prolonged drought - 100 mph high speed winds, debatable', says an expert at the conference.

Onto a train out of Melbourne to the Eucalypt gum forests and dryland farming country, and into Harry's Landrover, we drove where possible for three days. Kinglake was closed, the small forest town where a month before he had been with the CFA the day after the fireball had ripped at its heart, and his, and the same of Marysville, a crime scene.

I absorbed old Victorian stories and observed currency in a 200-year struggle between settlers and land.

Click on the image to enlarge and see captions.

Other Galleries in this exhibition
General Postcards | Aspects of Tokyo | Christmas Cards | The Black and Brown State of Victoria