Australia · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · sugar cane · Tweed Valley

A Misty Morning … and a Sugar Cane Fire

The view to Mount Warning and across the Tweed Valley this morning looked incredible. A thick layer of mist had settled in the valley overnight, hiding from sight every object – both natural and constructed – that is usually visible on the valley floor. I took a series of misty morning photos which I will post here tomorrow.

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the day in our garden, right down the back of our yard among the fruit trees we planted several years ago. We’ve had a pretty hectic past eighteen months for one reason or another and have consequentially neglected our orchard area. And it shows. We have lost a couple of trees and have pruned back others harshly, hoping they will bounce back after some care and attention.

We were not alone in the garden though. As we were digging around our (very healthy!) pecan tree we noticed a kookaburra watching us from its perch in the pear tree.

You might notice the intensity of this gorgeous bird’s gaze! We knew what he was looking for – dinner – and it wasn’t long before he swooped down to catch a tasty morsel he had noticed in the soil.

At other times he seemed quite nonchalant, as if the potential of discovering a meal in our turned garden soil hadn’t crossed his mind!

After collecting dinner he flew back to the tree branch and dined alone, then shortly after he flew away.

Meanwhile, we heard the crackling sound of a sugar cane fire starting in the valley.

The fire was just a short distance away from our yard, but far enough away from the sudden drop at the end of our yard to be able to see the cane fire clearly. As the fire burned, I took a series of photos.

The outer perimeter of the cane field is clearly outlined, and as you can see the fire has been lit around the perimeter. The flames quickly gain momentum, burning the inner section of the field to remove leaf debris before harvesting can take place.

Within an incredibly short time, the fire is over. The job is done.

The time between the last two photos is just two minutes.

Just one minute later, the flames are virtually gone.

From the first dim sound we heard as the cane fire began, to the time the flames were gone, just ten minutes passed.

The sugar cane industry has played an integral role in the Tweed Valley for many generations. Newcomers to the area often cannot understand the attraction locals have to seeing cane fields ablaze every winter, but to the long-standing locals like myself, and to my husband – a fourth-generation Tweed local – the area simply would not be the same without the familiar orange glow in the valley each winter.

5 thoughts on “A Misty Morning … and a Sugar Cane Fire

  1. Love the beautiful picture of the mist in the valley. And the portraits of the kookaburra are amazing! (Of course, as you know, I’m partial to photographs of birds…) The burning of the cane fields is interesting. It makes me wonder how the fire can burn the leaf debris without harming the sugar cane. Do you smell the smoke, too? Or is the fire too far away?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve wondered how the cane stems remain unharmed too, Barbara! I think the stems of sugar cane are safe because the fire rages so fast through the undergrowth and extinguishes so soon after it begins. After the burn though, we hear the harvester in the valley early the next day. No time is wasted in cutting the cane and getting it to the mill. My husband tells me that is so the bare stems don’t dry out. We only sometimes smell the smoke, but when the mill is in full production there’s a sweet sugary, molasses smell in that area! The mill is a couple of villages away from us though, so we don’t get the smell here.

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