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49 comments


  • Wow – interesting to see some photos of the devastation. The fires will certainly be in the memories of a lot of Aussies for a long time!
    Thanks for sharing.

    March 10, 2009
  • The devastation is incomprehensible. Thanks for sharing these photos.

    March 11, 2009
  • Jane

    I was also priveledged – if that’s the right word – to be taken to visit Kinglake a few weeks ago. Your photos bring so much of it back. Thank you.

    March 11, 2009
  • Thank you for sharing.
    It’s difficult to imagine the power of fire…
    whum, and almost all gone…

    But as the flower shows, life goes on. It’s going to be hard but when people work together they have more power to go on…

    March 11, 2009
  • Charles Jones

    Thank you for taking and sharing these photos. The tragedy and suffering that Australia suffered this year is made much more tangible by these images and stories.

    March 14, 2009
  • […] You can see the photos I took in my blog post on the Kinglake visit. […]

    March 14, 2009
  • […] You can see the photos I took in my blog post on the Kinglake visit. […]

    March 14, 2009
  • […] You crapper wager the photos I took in my journal locate on the Kinglake visit. […]

    March 14, 2009
  • Thank you for sharing this with us.

    March 14, 2009
  • Thank you for sharing. Southern Cal had its share too last year and as of recent I got to tour the remains of a place that lost over 500 homes. It is very hard to put into words. Your photos shared a story that wasn’t shared on the media good enough.

    March 14, 2009
  • […] Kinglake: One Month After Black Saturday […]

    March 14, 2009
  • […] You can see the photos I took in my blog post on the Kinglake visit. […]

    March 15, 2009
  • I found your blog through the DPS daily update. I think that you did a beautiful job photographing this, you really brought out the emotion in the scene with some of your choices of shots. And I for one think that everyone who photographs a tragedy should have the same level of respect and empathy as you do. :)

    March 15, 2009
  • […] You can see the photos I took in my blog post on the Kinglake visit. […]

    March 15, 2009
  • Eileen

    Thank you for sharing your photos. They indeed told a story of human courage and loss. They tell the story of humanity. Also difficult to look at and know someone lost their life there.

    March 15, 2009
  • […] Kinglake: One Month After Black Saturday Neil Creek Neil Creek had the opportunity to photography the Kinglake area in Southeastern Australia after the devastating wildfires. Check out his results! […]

    March 15, 2009
  • My heart hurts terribly for these families. Having been through similar fires here twice, I know the fear and the uncertainty. My condolences to those who lost loved ones.

    Thank you for sharing the photos and Ben’s story.

    March 15, 2009
  • […] Creek, a Melbourne photographer, was invited into the town of Kinglake [^].  He has the story of his visit, photos  and some details of how the town was affected, as […]

    March 15, 2009
  • Neil,

    What a powerful story you have given us and written so purely and honestly. I think you captured the thoughts of anyone of us who might find ourselves in a similar situation, to photograph or not? We live in Southern California and went through a firestorm in our neighbourhood, thankfully without the loss of life you’ve witnessed but we still suffered greatly.

    My continuing prayers and thoughts go out to you and your fellow Australians. Time is a great healer but those lost should never be forgotten and your work goes a long way towards ensuring they won’t be.

    Bill

    March 16, 2009
  • Neil, thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate what you’ve written in this post, and the dPs post. It’s humbling to read about, and see, the horrible situation your countrymen are facing.

    You clearly did a wonderful job of balancing your desire to document this tragedy and respect those effected. I’m proud to call you a friend.

    March 16, 2009
  • I just read this post through Digital Photography School’s Daily Update. Well done, and I appreciate the emphasis on being human (as a photographer) and treating others as human, rather than simply “get the photo no matter what.”

    March 20, 2009
  • Cheryl Mackie

    I read your post in Digital Photography School. Seeing your photos brought tears to my eyes, even after the shock of the awful event is over. Thank you for empathetically showing a tragedy that rocked so many people.

    March 20, 2009
  • Justin Meade

    Hi Niel,
    I wished to go there myself, but didnt want to intrude on the residents grief. I was impressed to see an aussie in the digital-photography-school.com newsletter, and glad of the opportunity to see your pics from kinglake. I like the ones based around the story with ben, and the fact he could garner a smile about his xbox.
    keep up the good work.
    Justin

    March 20, 2009
  • Thank you very much to everyone who has commented, and for your kind words. It’s great to know that my photos were appreciated and help get the word out about this tragedy. It’s also reassuring to know that the consensus is that I went about this the right way. I’ve never done this kind of shoot before, and I didn’t really know the best way to do the job respectfully, so I relied upon my instincts as a human being desiring to be compassionate.

    @Justin Ben is typical of the rural Aussie battler, with a wry sense of humor. For example: Somehow his truck escaped the fire with minor damage in the back yard. A friend who was with him asked “Have you got the keys mate? She might still be working.” Ben immediately replied “Yeah sure, they’re in the house, I’ll just go get them.”

    March 20, 2009
  • […] Kinglake: One Month After Black Saturday Neil Creek Neil Creek had the opportunity to photography the Kinglake area in Southeastern Australia after the devastating wildfires. Check out his results! […]

    March 21, 2009
  • Emma McPherson

    As a resident of Mansfield in North East Victoria I can relate to the detestation you have witnessed and have had some contact with those who helped with, and were harmed in these fires. Somehow it is impossible to understand the chaos and result of such a firestorm with only words. These images are truly evocative of the many stories I have heard. Thanks for sharing them and taking on the project. I am sure Erin and her family, especially Ben will be grateful and appreciate your compassion and respectful display.

    March 21, 2009
  • Nick Pierce

    I live in Bald Spur Road and have so for over 15 years. I saved my house, but since these photos have been published I have had constant harassment from looters, sightseers and trespassers. I left my house this evening for one hour only to find while gone someone removed my fence and drove onto our land while we were out. Please remove these photos from this website they are causing my family much anger and pain. We have not yet got all our dead back from the coroners and have not had a chance to bury our family and friends. Please no photos or blogs about our once quiet street. 21/3/09

    March 21, 2009
  • Nicole Evans

    Nick, please don’t lash out at people because you are angry, you can’t blame this blog for ‘leading looters’ to your house any more than you could blame all the news reports, or newspaper photographs.
    Neil is trying to convey something here, for his own experience, for our friend Erin who also lost so much, and to blame him for being looted is unfair and not justified, especially given how long looters have been reported there.

    March 22, 2009
  • Great post, but its a bit long and most people like short and sweet posts!

    March 22, 2009
  • Judy of St Andrews

    Porn for Arsonists and Sickos.
    If you were in a horrendous car crash, in which all your family died, how would you feel about photos of the incident being published on the net before you had chance to grieve and heal your shattered life?
    We recognize parts of these landscapes in which people we know died. We find it offensive and sadly voyeristic.
    Let us grieve in privacy. Do not publish the name of our street and our neighbours streets because it gives sightseers a destination. Sure you have right to tell your freind’s story are share a photo or two, but I find the many thumbnails of the whole area really quite offensive. The dead, have not yet been mourned or buried. No one out here has their power back on, let alone internet, so stop stuffing around on your computer and find something more useful to do with yourself. How about coming up and burying some dead wildlife? That would be a much better use of your services.
    And more helpful to the community rather than your own private need to exploit our living hell by publishing it on the basis that people need to see it. Have you thought about publishing your photos after all the memorial notices are finished being published? Have some bloody respect.

    March 22, 2009
  • Erin Hutchinson

    To Judy from St Andrews and Nick Pierce,

    Honestly, I was quite taken aback by your comments. Please, do not misunderstand. I can assure you, Neil did not take these photos with any kind of disrespect. He is just trying to convey the enormity of the situation so that people understand how devastating it has been for the people of Kinglake and that they need our help. He also donated $300 to my brother Ben, a CFA volunteer who has lost his house and many of his neighbours. I myself had lived in Kinglake my whole life up until a year ago. Much of my friends and family still live in Kinglake and many people I know have sadly lost their lives. For that first week, all I could do was cry as more and more names were revealed. People I had known, people I had worked with and students I had taught. Kinglake is my hometown. I don’t think I can describe how guilty I felt having to watch this tragedy unfold while I was safe in my new house. All I wanted to do was get back and help my brother and my friends and I did get the chance to do that. Neil wanted to help as well, and that is what he did.
    Please understand, Neil did not travel to Kinglake as a tourist. He accompanied me there as my friend, to do what he could to help. Do not take out on your anger on Neil. That is not fair. He has done nothing wrong.

    March 22, 2009
  • Erin Hutchinson

    …I might also like to add that, as per your suggestion, we have already helped to bury dead animals in the town. I myself have also donated much of my own money to friends as well as photographs and numerous material donations. My brother is living back with us at our new home and we have been very busy helping him and many friends in any way we can to rebuild their lives. I’m not looking for any kind of thanks in mentioning this, I am just trying to clear up some of the accusations you have made against Neil and myself.

    March 22, 2009
  • Ray Hutchinson

    Nick & Judy – please don’t misunderstand. Bald Spur Road whether you like it or not is now considered by the authorities to be the main thoroughfare road between St Andrews and Kinglake. CFA response information from 21 Mar 2009 shows St Andrews and Kinglake reciprocal responses via Bald Spur Road (don’t like it but I don’t wear the hat). Obviously the local residents are aware of this change and these photo’s show little of your personal location. If they did not have the street name in their title attached to them you would have little to complain about. For the record 15 Kinglake CFA Members lost their homes while trying to stop the blaze saving both property and lives at St Andrews then assisted with the search for family, friends and neighbours…do you really think these were published without thought and respect.

    March 22, 2009
  • For the record – I have removed the names of streets from all photo titles and descriptions.

    March 22, 2009
  • Cody

    Example enough that emotion alone does not make for logic…

    Neil, I commend you for documenting the experience as it was presented to you. I also commend you for your photo auction to raise money for the cause…this seems to have been overlooked by some. I’ve kept up with your ‘coverage’ of the fires from about as far across the globe as one can get from Australia – and it brought me closer to the situation, the plight, the emotions and pain. You have been considerate and compassionate at all times in your approach – do not feel guilty for pure actions interpreted poorly.

    March 22, 2009
  • Ray Hutchinson

    Just for the record, checks are being made to ensure people who are in Judy’s position are identified and helped. It is important for all who survived the Black Saturday events are returned to normality as soon as possible. The efforts of hundreds of Power Company staff who volunteered their time to restore the power to all areas was above and beyond the call of duty. Large camps were erected and works have continued since making areas safe and replacing power lines. St Andrews has been reconnected so if Judy does have a problem it is up to all of us to ensure her plight is known.

    March 22, 2009
  • Dear Nick Pierce and Judy of St Andrews, please don’t think of this as an intrusion into your private lives but as someone trying to alert the public that a lot of help is and will be needed. As you guys have said, you don’t have electric or internet yet. However, Neil does and if handle in the right way as I think Neil is doing. He might be able to draw attention to people who own their heavy equipment and are willing to donate their own time and help with clean up so you all may start rebuilding not only your homes but your lives too. Or for people to start donating money plus other items just to help make this time a little bit easier. There will always be bottom feeders whenever tragedy strikes. Neil’s blog didn’t bring this about. Them opening the roads did. However, you also have people with willing hands, strong backs, and big hearts. Don’t shut those out that are willing to help in whatever way they can. God bless you all.

    March 22, 2009
  • Erin Hutchinson

    I do have to say, it’s very odd to hear that you don’t have electricity yet. All the people I know in Kinglake and St Andrews have had their power back for quite some time now. I was just on the phone to my best friend from St Andrews and she too was saying that she didn’t know of anyone who was still without power. If it is true, then I would strongly suggest looking into that.

    March 22, 2009
  • Jesuu

    These are really shot well Neil. They aren’t intrusive, but still show us exactly how destructive these fires are.
    Thanks for sharing these.
    Jess x

    March 25, 2009
  • Luke

    I will be honest – I just got back an hour ago after a drive through Kinglake, Kinglake West and Humevale. When I got home I had a look for a story such as this on Kinglake. I have just read through all of these comments and thought I would add my own. I wasn’t shocked by the devastation. I guess I was prepared after seeing so much in the media the past 7 weeks. One thing I did notice in some areas is how random the fires were – one building burnt to the ground and the next looks ok. I made sure I was considerate of the local people. I bought lunch in Kinglake, didn’t stop to gawk, but kept moving and left the camera at home. There were others there to see the destruction, but not as many as I thought would be. I have never been to Kinglake before today, never known anyone who has lived there either. I wanted to see it for myself as for me the loss of wildlife and destruction of the bush from the fires was hard to comprehend. It made me smile to see some native trees have resprouted and tree ferns have new fronds growing. Some pastures had a cover of grass growing. I can understand why some locals are angry for non locals having a look. But what do they want – Judy lives in St Andrews, yet I saw several signs promoting the St Andrews market for tomorrow. Surely those handmade signs are for tourists as the locals would know that the market is on. All I’m saying is that maybe some non locals need to go so that they can deal with their own grief in regards to what happened on Feb 7. As long as visitors are respectful, I think some locals need to settle down with their comments.

    March 28, 2009
  • Neatz

    Just read all of the above. I had a conversation with a young lady last night who suggested that I go to Kinglake to do some photography as I am an amatuer. My response was that I would not feel comfortable doing that, especially as I have no connection with anyone up there and to go there would, (I believe)be quite an intrusive thing for me to do. Neil on the other hand is somewhat connected and has relayed via this site his sensitivity and respect to the locals who are sooo affected by this horrendous tragedy.It struck me that SOME people,(not you Luke) when going up to Kinglake for a squizz would not even take into consideration the absolute devastation of human loss and the ongoing affect that ‘black saturday’ will have for many years to come. Normality does not return as it was,but it does change shape to become something else.
    Thanks Neil

    April 04, 2009
  • Luke

    I have been going to kinglake flowerdale strath creek my entire life and i have never seen so much destruction.

    I was there after the 2005 fires but this is worse by alot i live 15 minutes away from Kinglake and i was getting ready to go if it came into whittilsea.

    All the CFA fellas and people who helped defend homes you are heros and i take my hat off to all of ya.

    R.I.P HAYDN MC MAHON YOU WILL BE MISSED MATE

    April 08, 2009
  • Luke

    Its great to see the Aussie flag flying everywere in kinglake its a shame it takes a fire to raise our countrys flag but im sure they will be flying them everyday.

    Im helping a mate clean up hes home that was burnt to the ground on black saturday in Kinglake but we have come across aspestos and we dont want to move it.

    Does anybody know who we can get in to move the stuff out. We cant clean up anymore without moving the aspestos and he wants to rebuild but this aspestos is holding us up who do we call to get rid of this stuff

    April 08, 2009
  • Luke

    I am Luke my comments started on April 8th

    I am not the other luke whos comments started on the 28th March

    sorry if it confused some people

    April 08, 2009
  • Naomi Creek

    Hey Luke

    I thought there was a large company that was contracted by the government to come in and clear away house debris and asbestos. You would definitely be able to find out if you rang radio 774 (ABC) or texted them. They might even have something on their website.

    Other than that, this person’s blog has a list of various numbers and links for people needing to know about removing asbestos safely.
    http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2009/02/waste-disposal.html

    Good luck with the clear up :)

    Naomi

    April 08, 2009
  • Ray Hutchinson

    Luke

    They need to register with their local council and Grocon will organise the clean up. Be careful as Asbestos is everywhere having now been spread by the rain. For those who are interested Ben has now picked out his new home which has all the new building requirements added. It won’t be his beloved ‘A’ Frame but will have room for daughter and friends to stay. He is still in the yellow overalls when not working at his job.

    April 08, 2009
  • Charlotte Dahl

    Hi Niel,
    I was wonderinng if you have copyeright on all your photos, or if I would be able to use the first photo on your blog in an article to go in a magazine i’m making together with my class. I come from Lillehammer Norway, but spent a year on exchange in Australia, living in Sydney when the black Sunday fires ruined large areas in VIC. I felt the tradgedy, and all the compassion for the victims. My school asked for volunteers that wanted to give blood and become blood donors as part of helping the many victims. I thought this was a great idea, that schools, companies and communities got together to help in any way they could. So I donate blood together with some of my friends from school. For our magazine I have written an article about how everybody worked together to help the vicitims after the bushfires. Therefore I’m looking for some photos I can use for my article as I didn’t get to see the effected areas myself. And your photos are really good and descriptive of the destruction caused by the fires.

    November 28, 2009
  • Hi Charlotte,

    I’ve relesaed all the bushfire photos under a creative commons lisence. That means they are available to everyone for any use that does not make money, as long as I am credited as the photographer. So please feel free to use any of the photos for your magazine! Thank you very mush for your generous assitance, and I wish you the best with your mag.

    November 28, 2009
  • I look at these photos two years on and it still gives me shivers. we lost a dear freind in the blaze up in kinglake
    and the kilmore fires was not far from our own home.

    lets pray this year that education and dedication will save lives.

    scar

    September 27, 2011

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