The 1939 fires devastated Victoria and, until the fires of early
this year, were the worst in Victoria’s history. The 1939 Royal
Commission witness evidence gives a compelling insight into forest and
fire management at the time.
A full transcript of the evidence was recently found at the University of Melbourne’s Creswick campus.
This long-hidden document provides a fascinating contrast to the fires
of February 2009.
Judge Leonard Stretton’s 1939 Royal Commission heard evidence in many city and country locations.
The 2,600 pages of evidence convey the experience and opinions of the community,
from graziers and foresters to sawmill owners, timber workers, and police.
This seminar, delivered by the Melbourne School of
Land and Environment on Monday 9th November 2009, used the transcript
to explore the striking similarities and differences between the past
and current Royal Commission. Speakers included:
Additional footage was produced by Fire Management, Department of
Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria, Australia. It is taken
from an original 16 mm film, which was produced by Mervyn Bill in 1942.
Pictures Courtesy of Department of Primary Industries, Victoria.