Black Thursday [The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia, 1925]

[Editor: This is an entry from The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia (1925).]

Black Thursday, 6 February 1851, the day on which an immense tract of country in Victoria was laid waste by one of the most disastrous bush fires known in Australia. Its origin was ascribed to the carelessness of some bullock-drivers in the Plenty Ranges, but it seems incredible that any fire could have spread so rapidly from a single source. The flames covered almost simultaneously the country round Western Port, the Dandenong forests, and the ranges thence to Mount Macedon and the Barrabool Hills; then, spreading from the Black Forest across the Loddon district, they crossed the Pyrenees and in the end attacked Mount Gambier beyond the South Australian border. The loss of life was unexpectedly small, but that of property was enormous. In Melbourne, owing to a scorching north wind, ashes from Mount Macedon fell in the streets, which were full of dense smoke, and the thermometer at 11 a.m. registered 117°. A full and vivid account of the disaster is given in Turner’s History of Victoria, i. 331-3.

Arthur Wilberforce Jose and Herbert James Carter (editors), The Illustrated Australian Encyclopaedia, vol. 1, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1925, pages 169-170

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