Anita Norris, local resident and professional wildlife photographer, took this image on her property at Brennans Road East, Arthurs Creek, during the Black Saturday Bushfires at 3.05pm on Saturday 7th February, 2009. While her partner was fighting fires on the day as a CFA volunteer, Anita was at home with her dogs, constantly keeping an eye on their property and surrounds. Anita visually documented the volatile changes she witnessed on Black Saturday, and the impact it had on her neighbourhood in the days following.
This image is one of a suite of three images.

Anita offered this photograph, along with another eleven images, for inclusion in the community-led Bushfire Photo Exhibition, which featured thirty-five local photographs, at the Bridges Restaurant/Nursery, Hurstbridge, held between February and March 2010. She was responsible for curating this event and instrumental in making it the success it was. This image was also published in the book 'Footsteps in the Ash' which documents St Andrews' and Strathewen's experiences during Black Saturday. This image is part of the the Victorian Bushfire Collection and is supported by an interview undertaken with Anita Norris.

Description of Content

This colour digital photograph was taken on Black Saturday, 7th February 2009, and is one of a group of three images taken in succession. Anita took this image of sky from her property in Arthurs Creek as the sun is finally hidden by a dark smoke cloud. The sun's rays filter through the bottom of the cloud rolling in from the left of the image and strobes into the blue sky. The top of a tree and roof of a shed are still visible in silhouette at the bottom half of the image. This image documents the physical nature of bushfire, and also represents the erratic weather and temperature conditions Anita experienced during that day. As a professional photographer, Anita was able to appreciate the aesthetic qualities that these conditions provided to her as an artist, and quickly captured these with her camera while her environment changed about her.

Physical Description

Digital photograph.


The bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, caused significant loss of life and damage to personal and community property, and state infrastructure - and became the worst bushfire disaster in Australia's history. The Kilmore East fire swept over Mount Sugarloaf on Black Saturday destroying most of the small settlement of Strathewen and causing the largest loss of life of any community in Victoria. Despite the high death toll and widespread devastation, an astonishing number of creative projects have arisen to give comfort and help in the recovery efforts. This photograph is one of many that were used in a local photographic display and a publication which documented the many stories of loss and survival.

The image captures the dramatic atmospheric and visual changes associated with natural disasters and the surprising beauty found within these moments. It represents how the effects of fire can be experienced via a great distance from the source highlighted by thick smoke and atmospheric changes, The image reveals resident's personal experiences including threats to personal safety and confronting challenges in deciding actions to take under stressful situations. It is an important and rare document of the photographer's personal experience as a local resident during Black Saturday.

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